Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gift of monkeys

Ok, this probably will not work for the Hermit card--at least for you, that is.
Welcome to the Litha 2013 edition of the Tarot Blog Hop. There is a chance that you have hopped here from Pepi Valderrama's blog (this is her first time doing the Tarot Blog Hop with us). Or maybe you got here from the master list for this Blog Hop. Or maybe you are one of my regular readers (hey, there are a couple of regular readers). Or maybe you arrived though the good services of Google (or some other fine search engine--keep the love coming). However you found me, welcome to the fun of the Tarot Blog Hop.

Today, on this magical Tarot Blog Hop, we are supposed to be talking about our gifts. When I learned of this theme, I said, "Wait a second. I don't have any gifts." Then I realized that was wrong, and perhaps the voice of my broken-down family (because that is just how my family rolls...basically, if you had a gift, the job of the family was to make sure that it was properly crushed before you left the house).

Turns out I do have a gift--call it insanity (wait--that might also be the voice of my family speaking).

To explain, let me illustrate this whole idea with a card...or rather a failed design attempt for a Tarot card. The card is supposed to be the Hermit card. I know--it looks nothing like the traditional Hermit. The very fact that I think that it could be a successful design for a Hermit card (for the Monkey Tarot) just screams that I do not have both oars in the water.

Yet being slightly around the bend does have its advantages. One, I made an attempt to do something different, something untried--insane people are allowed to fail, and fail BIG. Two, my idea of the Hermit--however wrong--is a wider understanding than the traditional Waite/Rider/Smith version...which by the way is only a hundred years old, steals from the Golden Dawn, and is only traditional in the sense that everyone uses it today--insane people can ignore tradition. Three, I am allowed to be wrong...which is a form of mental illness if you went though the public school system (remember you are only allowed to give the correct answer; all wrong answers will get you a bad grade).

So why the different design for the Hermit card?

Well, the old design (which Golden Dawn borrowed from older, more traditional decks...but they only borrowed the designs that reinforced their ideas) represents a form of Hermit that no longer is present today. Honestly, how many true Hermits are there living out in the wild...two? three? four? Can't be more than a million...because a million is a small city's worth.

No, today's hermits live right among us. There is probably one working in a cubicle just down the hall from you. The goal of the hermit was to isolate themselves from humanity. You do not need to live in the wild to do so. I have been completely alone, isolated from the rest of humanity, while surrounded by people. Ignore Facebook, Twitter and network news long enough and people will think that you are a Hermit. Refose to go to parties...and you are a hermit, or maybe a nun.

(Hmmm, a nun might make a good version of the Hermit card...or maybe not. Feel free to weigh in on the idea in the comment section.)

There is also the little fact that the esoteric version of hermits are trail blazers and explorers. Of course, that little fact isolates them from the rest of humanity quite well. Just question why we do certain things in the esoteric sciences; or worse, just come out and say that certain things work differently for you (and not according to the script that everyone else uses)--and you will know true isolation. Stoning may be out of fashion, but society can still make you a pariah. And even if you are right, the masses won't listen to you; they are too busy watching the buzzing of the insects on television and the internet.

Ok, maybe it is not insanity that I suffer from. Maybe I am just a happy little cynic.

Nevertheless, here is a question for you: What type of hermit actually affects society? Answer: The hermit that actually interacts with society. I imagine that most of them have been told that they need meds or therapy, or are just strange, or are cynics.

Hey, my warp sense of reality is a gift, I tell you.

Next up on the Tarot Blog Hop is Vivianne Kacal's post. And remember if there are any broken links, you can always hop over them using the master list for this Blog Hop. Happy hopping!

Flash Review of the Flying Roll Commentaries book

Yea!! I received my copy of the Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community in the mail today. And I decided to do a quick video review of it...or maybe it is just Mad Uncle Morgan rambling on for several minutes without a clear cut purpose other than trying to convince you to buy this book. Someone please send me more special brownies, so that I can shut the rambling off for a couple of minutes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

And the next open full moon ritual will be...

Merlin explores the OFM floor diagram.
As my regular readers know not only am I a member of Golden Dawn, a proud Wiccan, a board member of the Hearthstone Community Church, I also do my turn at public ritual once a year. Yes, it is time once again for me to expose some people to my messed up ideas about what Wicca (and perhaps the Golden Dawn) is all about.

This year, I might be reusing the floor diagram that I created in 2010 for another OFM ritual. Or maybe not. I haven't decided yet. It depends on whether or not, I decide that it will be useful.

This year's ritual will involve "magical images" and the Wiccan wheel of the year. It will be a guided meditation (visualization). I may or may not publish the ritual text later--I haven't decided yet.

For those of you living in Denver, or close there of, the next Hearthstone Community Church Open Full Moon ritual will be held on June 21, 2013. Doors open at 7 pm, community announcements at 7:30 with the ritual starting right afterwards. Hearthstone meets at the First Unitarian Church at 1400 Lafayette, Denver Colorado.

And for those who are not near Denver, I collect the articles that I write for the monthly newsletter into ebooks (three yearly collections--99 cents apiece, and a three article set--free) that are available from Barnes and Noble.

QoD Scott Adams (Once a sock puppet always a sock puppet)

Today's quote of the day is from Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert):

"[Once] the Internet decides you are a holocaust-denying, creationist, science-hating, sexist, sock puppet, all evidence seems to support that view."

I know exactly what he is saying--some people believe that I belong to a conspiracy. I don't. The truth is that I am just a rather loud blogger that really hates certain people (who will remain nameless just because it is wrong to make them cry).

You can read the entry that I pulled this Scott Adams quote from over on his blog.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fire season trumps gardening

Orbs are dust and smoke particles.
Given the heat wave (no surprise, right) and the hazy and smoke from the wild fires, my gardening season may be over with. *sigh* We will have to see, but I am going to be cautious. Heavy exercise (including clearing out large areas of weeds) is not good for the lungs while the air is full of smoke and haze.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book development is sooo ssslllloooow

It took forever for this book to reach print.
[File this post under: Morgan's mind is that of a lunatic without a real sense of direction.]

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I couldn't wait to talk about this book, Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community, until after the official announcement, then I wandered off and talked about gardening and expensive herbs instead...which made sense to some people, but not to others.

Truth of the matter is that I might (not) have adult ADHD, wanted to get as much gardening done before the heat wave started, have a lovely wife who was tired of looking at the weeds (and is unwilling to allow me to figure out how to utilize them for magical purposes because they are not pretty weeds); and most importantly, I had already spent a year NOT talking about this project (outside of the occasional vague comment that all of a sudden makes sense to those people who were not in the loop) and adding to my stock of ebooks seemed more important (because multiple pen-names means lots of work).

[Is that the longest sentence that I have ever wrote on this blog? Probably not...but it is pretty long, isn't it?]

Yeah, I had already spent a year being silent about this upcoming book. And people claim that I can't keep a secret--hehe--and that the Golden Dawn community can't either--hehe.

And I came into the process very late, so this book was in the pipeline for several years.

A few years ago, Person H (who may or may not want to admit to who they are) came up with an idea for a joint Golden Dawn community building book, centered around the Flying Rolls.

(The Flying Rolls, for those who have not spent hours reading them and/or studying the history of the original Golden Dawn Order, were documents passed hand-to-hand among the original actual Adept Minors [as opposed to the nominal "in name only" Adept Minors who existed before the Vault of the Adepts and the 5=6 initiation ritual was developed]. Think of the Flying Rolls as a stop-gap lesson system issued in the form of a circular chain letter. Some of the Flying Rolls are were just a few sentences; others are longer; none of them are well-constructed by literary standards. The Flying Rolls are the "oral tradition" of the original Golden Dawn; some of them originally were given as actual lectures in lodge. The term, Flying Roll, actually comes from the Bible, from the book of Zechariah.)

[Zechariah 5:1-4 Once again I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a scroll was flying. [[The angel]] said to me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a flying scroll: twenty cubits in width and ten cubits in length." He said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the surface of the whole land. For [heretofore] anyone who steals has been absolved of such a curse; and everyone who swears [falsely] has absolved of such a curse. I have taken it out [the curse]--the word of HASHEM, Master of Legions--and it shall enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely in My Name, and it shall lodge within his house and annihilate it, with its wood and stones." *Stone edition of the Tanach*]

(The size of the scroll is the same size as the Sanctuary doorway. This is an interesting section to study considering the amount of oath-breaking allegations that has been placed on the Order's doorstep. Anyways, back to the story at hand...)

Person H went to a few publishers, including the biggest, with their idea, and was soundly rejected by all. So the idea was placed on the back burner (at this stage, the ebook market does not function well at all, so that is not an option either).

(I also abandoned certain projects for the lack of publishing support...)

Now, over the last few years, given the abandonment of the publishing of GD material by the bigger publishers, a set of small publishers have arose to focus on the small Golden Dawn readership (less than a thousand? who knows?). And Person H finally had one of them agree to help them get this project done.

(...but in my case, I chose the self-published route of ebooks instead.)

At this point, the project becomes very interesting. As a book, just a clean version of the Flying Rolls that were double-checked with original copies would be of value to the GD community (because the King version were suspected to be corrupt and incomplete), but the inclusion of commentary by the entire Golden Dawn community would be a welcome insight in how the community actually operated and thought.

When one looks at the range of the people involved in making commentaries in this book, Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community, you see all the major groups (and one minor group) were involved.

The contributors to this book include: Frater A.M., Frater AR, Deanna Bonds, Christopher Bradford, Chic Cicero, Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Ian Cowburn, Morgan Drake Eckstein, Nick Farrell, Paola Farrell, Lauren Gardner, Jayne Gibson, Frater Goya, VH Frater IOV, Aaron Leitch, Liza Llewellyn, Joseph Max, Frater Philomancer, VH Soror QQDAM, Samuel Scarborough, Eric V. Sisco, Rachael Walker, Sam Webster, Harry Wendrich, Peregrin Wildoak, Frater Yechidah, Frater YShY.

The author list also provides proof that a large part of the Golden Dawn community are actually in communication with one another, all the major voices (and one minor voice) are involved. This project was a "word-of-mouth" project, people became involved as the chain letter spread. Given there are only thirty-six Flying Rolls (from the original Order), at a certain point all the Rolls had commenters and the chain letter stopped. Pickings were slim by the time I got involved (my group is minor and unimportant located on the outskirts of what is Golden Dawn, and I am a minor voice in the GD community on the very edge of the grapevine), but ironically I ended up able to grab the Flying Roll I most wanted to talk about (some Goddess likes me).

[Some of my statements over the years are all of a sudden going to make sense because what I wrote about is important to how the BIORC thinks about certain matters.]

One of the difficulties involved in a project like this is the bookkeeping nightmare of dividing up royalties among the writers. The solution in this case was for all the writers to donate their royalties to a commonly agreed upon charity--the Golden Dawn Legal Defense Fund. In fact...

(Yes, none of the writers, except the controllers of the Legal Defense Fund receive a dime of profit from this book. And the Legal Defense Fund is only a threat to people who believe that they are going to end up in court arguing over who rightfully should control the entirety of the Golden Dawn tradition. If you do not believe that you are going to end up in court, why not help those who made sure that we can all use the GD name recoup their legal expenses.)

...I am considering a project that would end up with the projects going to a charity (but the charity would involve homeless cats because I am that dude).

And I am positive it was a year ago when I turned in my commentary...

(I remember that it was right around the same time that someone told me that it was perfectly ok for my reputation to be destroyed because I did not belong to a certain Order [by someone high enough in that Order that it has to be official policy to destroy the reputation of outsiders], and people wonder why I do not trust certain people [who make claims that they like everyone, and are not out to destroy us...but one of your lieutenants says otherwise]; I had been busy defending the reputation of another writer, silly me.)

...but I am too lazy to dig though my sent emails.

The book is going to reveal how widely different the approaches to the Golden Dawn system are in the modern Golden Dawn community. While I only read a partial proof (it will be awhile before I can afford a copy...the reason I am taking time off from university is to repair my business and restore its income levels), I did find another commentary on a different Flying Roll that completely disagreed with mine. And that is ok. (I have joked that my commentary was written by a lunatic in crayon on the back of a cereal box while out of the special brownies--hey, I live in Colorado; I can eat the special brownies.) And there are certain Flying Rolls that I would have treated completely differently in a commentary, but it is all good because the book is about making you actually think about the Golden Dawn system.

Anyways, yes, this book has been a long time in coming out. The traditional publishing process is so slow. And the very nature of this project just dragged it out even longer.

But I think that we will all agree that the book was worth the wait.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

God Attacks! (Goodreads Giveaway)

I just noticed that J.R. Kiefer's book, God Attacks, has a Goodreads First Reads contest that is ending tomorrow (in 25 hours from the time this post is being written). What does this book have to do with Wicca and Golden Dawn? Absolutely nothing, other than the fact that I think that the book would be interesting to my regular readership. (The first chapter has a toy that is a prophet...and yes, it is a little strange.)

I am slowly reading an e-copy of this book. And I do mean slowly. Eventually, I will finish it--and probably review it here.

So if you are a member of Goodreads, you might want to slip over there before midnight (mountain time) June 10th, 2013 and click on the contest entry. (Contest is open to USA, GB and CA.)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Eighty dollars a pound for mugwort?!

Five pounds of mugwort for four hundred dollars--on eBay.
You know how I was shocked by how expensive catnip was--well, I just saw something on eBay that makes me think that catnip is cheap. I just ran across an eBay listing for five pounds of fresh cut mugwort selling for four hundred dollars.

Yep, that is eighty dollars a pound...

...for an invasive weed.

Yes, that is right--mugwort is an invasive weed by all definitions of the term. If you allow it to go to seed, it takes over an entire neighborhood. Of course, if you really can unload it for eighty dollars a pound, maybe that is not so bad. But still, eighty dollars...good thing that I have one of my own. Especially considering how much of it gets burned at my house (shamanic dream incense).

And before you ask, no, I have no mugwort to spare. Not a single leaf.

This mugwort is happy on my porch in its pot. So don't even think of moving it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Grow herbs, not grass

Grow catnip, not grass.
The other day, my wife and I were over at Vitamin Cottage (Natural Grocers), and I was looking at the small bags of herbs that they were selling. And discovered that catnip was selling for twenty dollars a pound. Given the size of the baggie, each offering I do to Bast--which gets eaten by the cats--runs for about five dollars. Good thing that I am growing my own.

One of the things that I have been doing as a long-term project is ripping up large sections of my lawn because I do not need that much lawn; and let's be honest, it still mainly weeds from the previous owner. Instead of grass, I am busy planting herbs. There are some that argue that we should be planting vegetables instead of grass, and I see their point. But in terms of return for my investment (time and energy), herbs are the best bet. Seriously, go look at the prices of herbs at the grocery store and tell me that tomatoes are a better investment.

If you want to see some pictures of the work that I am doing in my yard and garden, check out my Occupy Garden 2013 picture album on Facebook.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Khara Seshent!

Birthday cakes need a lot of eye of newt.
Happy birthday to Soror Khara Seshent--my dear wife and lady cat rescuer. This picture combines three of her favorite things: a pot (cauldron), a black cat, and some eye of newt. I am not sure how she feels about the sprinkles, but what is a birthday cake without them?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bad Monkey removed by the Apple iBookstore

Bad Monkey cannot be brought in the Apple iBookstore.
[File this post under: Mysteries about the business world I will never know or understand.]

As most of my regular readers know, I write a monthly column for the Hearthstone Community Church ("The OFM people") which I later collect into 99 cent ebooks. One of the collections (the 2011 articles) is called Bad Monkey.

Now, awhile back Bad Monkey was uploaded to Smashwords, and then it made its way though the distribution network. Including the Apple iBookstore. I know--I searched for it--it was available on Apple. Pity, I did not take a screenshot of this fact...

...because it has been removed from Apple.

We have all heard of the difficulties that erotica writers have with the iBookstore. H***, I have experienced them firsthand (under two of the pennames that I wrote erotica under). Now, I am experiencing the same crop of problems as an esoteric/Wicca/pagan writer.

And I will never know why my ebook was pulled from sale by Apple. One of the hazards with using Smashwords to upload my stuff is that I do not get to see the notices that Apple sends out when they remove stuff, or outright reject it. Why am I using Smashwords? Because I do not have an iDevice (yes, you need an Apple computer to upload to the iBookstore directly).

My paranoia says that this is the reason that it was pulled off of the iBookstore. 
But I have a paranoid theory. And it involves another about-to-be published book...also called Bad Monkey. I really hope that I am wrong because if my paranoid theory is right, then if a traditional and very popular writer decides to use a book title that is also being used by an independent (indie) writer, then the indie writer loses part of their stock. Apple would never actually do something like this, right?!

Oh well. Bad Monkey: The Collected 2011 Hearthstone Community Church Articles is still available on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.