Friday, August 30, 2013

Won an eight hour challenge

Fools and Cthulhu is the first ebook that I put up on Amazon.
Last week, Joe Konrath (one of the writers and bloggers that I read on a regular basis) offhand was talking about how easy it was for writers to forget that writing can be fun (quite easy to forget when you are focused on the business end of things). And he mentioned how he cranked out a few items over a beer--really short humorous ebooks) in the space of an hour.

Then he issued a challenge to his readers--write, edit, format, cover illustrate, and upload a short ebook in eight hours. And he said that he would blog about the winners...hmmm, there was no way that one could go south, was there?

Now, I am not sure how many writers read his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, but he was shocked that over an one hundred and forty of us actually completed the challenge.

Including myself.

Now, I will admit that I knew ahead of time that I could complete the challenge; after all, a lot of the erotica I write is short stories completed within ten hours (outlined, written, edited, cover made, formatted and uploaded with just ten hours used to complete the whole nine yards).

But it had been awhile since I wrote something just for fun--at least, ebook-wise.

The tricky part was that Joe Konrath likes Amazon (he does not think that they are the devil), so he wanted you to do the uploading to Amazon. And in my case, I have never done that before (I have been dealing with Smashwords and their distribution network).

Yes, I had been putting off learning how to do so...for awhile...much to my surprise, it was not nearly as painful as I imagined it to be.

Anyway, I now have another short-short story up in ebook form on the internet. And yes, I know, I should have stuck to writing erotica.

Fools and Cthulhu is 99 cents on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monopoly Cat wins

Monopoly Cat automatically wins Monopoly.
Back in February, people were asked to vote on what Monopoly token they wanted to replace, and what they wanted to replace it with. In the end, the Iron token was replaced with a Cat token. The Cat received 31 percent of the vote...which is just further proof that cats are the Secret Chiefs (because Secret Chiefs this century advertise their awesomeness even when you are unwilling or unable to contact them or even understand their decisions).

Yes, I voted for the Cat token.

And I would have taken a picture of my own cat on a Monopoly board...except I have no clue where I stored the board.

My wild theory of the day: If your cat kicks off all the other players' tokens onto the floor and occupies the entire board, you win. No, what do you mean that is not how it works?! That is how Monopoly works in Golden Dawn, so why shouldn't the game that teaches us that we want to control a monopoly not work the same way?

(For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the GD Monopoly rules, the rules clearly state that if your GD group has a Secret Chief that you get to rule everyone else's Order while puking up hairballs in their closets and pissing on all their hard work. Don't believe me? Well, produce your copy of the GD rulebook and prove to me that it does not say so in the rules. Oh, you can't prove that it does not say that...because you claim there is no such rulebook...well, alrighty then--I win! just like Monopoly Cat does.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear Broncos fans of the muggle variety

Let the taunting begin.
Dear Broncos fans of the muggle variety,

We are so sorry that you are upset that the NFL decided to hang up pictures of the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback downtown and on the side of the stadium. But some of us feel more supportive of the Ravens than we do of the Denver Broncos. It is nothing personal--it is just when you talk about sports that do not happen on broomsticks, us wizards tend to decide who to cheer for based solely on the totems and colors, and where we live doesn't matter so much. And I like ravens better than I like horses, plus their team colors are nicer. This is also true of the Minnesota Vikings--I like their totem and colors better too. I know that this type of logic eludes you muggles, just like the fact that football is so f***ing boring! But please try to keep it in mind when I am cheering for someone other than your local sport teams.

P.S. The only exciting football in human history is of the zero gee variety; and sorry, I still can't cheer for Denver in that time period because my favorite team is the London Jets. I don't imagine you muggles understand time travel either. Again, sorry that your feelings are bent out of shape.


The Wizard of Cook St.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review--Immersion Mastery (Zack Jezek)

Immersion Mastery by Zack Jezek was a hard book for me to finish. I abandoned it several times since starting to read it in November. I only finished it though sheer force of will.

One of my problems with the book is sheer amount of bragging that the author engages in; he is proud of the fact that he became a Reiki master and Mayan shaman at age ten, and that he is also a NLP master and a professional skate boarder. Jezek wrote this book at the ripe old age of nineteen. Yes, this book brought back flashbacks from earlier in my esoteric career, for I acquired a high degree far too young and said some damn stupid things earlier in my life believing that I actually knew what I was talking about. Maybe Jezek will be different, but I personally find my earliest writings as an esoteric leader and teacher to be almost physically painful to read.

While I agree with Jazek's opinion that his generation are the leaders of the future, I do not necessarily agree with him that his generation is any more unique than any previous generation. Sure, they have their own set of brand-new problems which young adults have never seen before, but a lot of generations have been able to say that statement.

So is there anything worthwhile in this book? And will it appeal to teen and twenty-somethings?

Yes, it will appeal to his own generation who will believe that they are somehow special and that their problems and disadvantages are actually assets and special abilities. And yes, I do believe that attention and compulsive disorders can be assets--history is full of famous people who today would be labeled ADHD/ADD and/or OCD. In fact, I would probably be labeled with an attention disorder if I would have went though high school five years later than I did (ADHD was just being a bad kid when I was in school)--not that I will ever be famous, yet these things are a daily part of my own life to a certain extent. But Jezek lays it on so thick, it is like a commercial to remain immature forever.

And maybe the book does have some worthwhile stuff in it. But it is buried deep in feel good talk aimed at making teen and twenty-somethings believe that they are perfectly ok just the way that they are. I am not sure Jezek is going to feel the same way when he is forty.

As for esoteric techniques talked about in this book (after all, I review esoteric and New Age books), there is a version of the "grounding as a tree" mediation, some game console based mental reprogramming techniques, a watered down version of the immersion method (my regular readers will know this better as magical boot camp or power week), and a hint of the chaos magic technique of interchangeable personalities. But they are all so caked in happy talk that quite honestly, I can't imagine anyone over the age of thirty being able to tolerate this book; or for that matter, any parent that has been exposed to the techniques in a different setting. And there are better sources for each and every one of the exercise and techniques, or at least better written ones (Jezek is far away from being a good writer).

I am giving this a weak two stars out of five.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book though a Goodreads First Reads drawing.]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Magic butter

My mind just goes to wrong places when I think about Magic Butter.
In the sidebar on Facebook a few minutes ago, I saw an ad for the Facebook page for Magic Butter. And yes, my mind went to a wrong place...twice in a row.

One, I live in Colorado where we have medical marijuana, and sort-of have recreational marijuana (large parts of the state is busy making sure that you can't buy it in their neighborhood).

Two, I write erotica--yes, go say Yecch! and complain to the world that I am a nasty person who should not be in Golden Dawn (exactly what do you want me to do for a living?).

Anyways, there is a point to all this...or at least, I think there is.

This botanical extractor makes medicinal butters, oils, and tinctures. And it costs one hundred and eighty dollars.

And I would need it why? (Yes, that is my point here.)

Oh, c'mon now--you thought it too.

All of us who have taken an alchemy class or an extended herb class know how to do this in our kitchens, right? Surely, I am not the only one that had a High Priestess cover the basics of this one, right? If hard pressed, I am quite sure that I could teach the method--and everyone knows that I am a lousy esoteric teacher--so I am quite sure that if you have someone in your lodge/Order who have taken a class, they can teach the class also. We should be knee deep in Golden Dawn magical butter, and probably are...

And if not, well, I guess you can buy a MB2...personally, I can't afford to buy one because my cats are eating me out of house and home.

But I will admit that I wonder how magical butter tastes on wheat-free toast.

You can use Magic Butter to make yummy food.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Does Facebook ignore hate speech against pagans and wiccans?

Troll cat issues a warning that I might get burnt at the stake.
Lately, there seems to be a rash of hate pages on Facebook promoting violence against pagans, Wiccans, and witches. One even includes the words "should be burned." And Facebook has basically stated that they do not see the harm in such pages...because it is ok to joke about burning people who are not Christian (hey, it is a theory--and Facebook has not given me any indication that my theory is wrong). Furthermore, despite people reporting such hate pages, Facebook has left them up for all to see.

But I betcha that if you put up a page calling for the burning of Christians (even just the heretics) that Facebook would be taking down the page, and ban you in a heartbeat for your hate-filled joke.

And why? Because we all know that when your religion controls the largest percentage of people in the country that you can pretty much say what you want without any blowback while claiming that your religion is under siege by those silly and completely false religions that represent less than five percent of the population. (I am always amazed how quickly the Christians fundies seem to be able to get people and pages removed from Facebook, but us pagans can't get the time of day from FB.)

[The following is for the United States...which is probably half of the Facebook users in the world--yes, I know, more research is needed...but I am a blogger; I don't deal in facts!]

The smaller your slice of the religious pie, the more likely you are to be burned at the stake for defending your religious views.
As for the defense that such pages are meant as a joke, well there is a small fly in the ointment.

And that is--some people really believe that witches should still be burned at the stake because their god tells them to do so (in what has to be one of the most hate filled books of all time--aka the Bible).

I have met some of these people. And they have said this nonsense to my face. Even knowing that I am a witch. And worse, when I protest, they say, "We don't mean you--you are one of the good ones." Shades of Nazi Germany alive and well in the freedom loving United States--of course, I imagine that the 1938 version of FB probably would not see the harm of Hitler and his followers either and their jokes about the hated Jews; after all, the Nazis were a big percent of the audience back then, and you can't go against the majority--or at least, that seems to be the rule on Facebook.

Remember that it is ok to believe such nonsense and hatred aimed at pagans, Wiccan and witches because it is right there on Facebook (and if it still up, it does not violate FB's rules of usage, including the anti-hate speech clause).

For those who haven't signed it yet, there is a petition on calling for Facebook to quit ignoring pages that promote hatred and violence against pagans, Wiccans, and witches.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Where clown makeup comes from

Look at all that clown makeup.
Yesterday, I was helping my wife clean out some buckets of old pottery glazes. (She was having a problem with one of the glazes, and she needs to start with a fresh batch of glaze to fix the problem.) And in the process, I learned where clown makeup comes from. Ok, maybe not--but at the moment, everything I do can end up being about clowns. (At a certain point, my current clown obsession will make sense...or not...let's just say that clowns are important in one of my writing projects at the moment. As a writer, your entire universe rotates around your latest project.) So anyways, the buckets are now clean, and my wife is good to go for mixing up of the new batches of glaze. And she promises to make no ceramic clowns unless they are cool clowns.

Common sense of politicians.

Old dried out actor remains.
Souls of children.

Tears of orphans.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Black cat appreciation day

Apollo looks slightly high--like he always does.
Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Well, every day is black cat appreciation day around my house. But today, the cats (all of them, even the non-black ones) think that they deserve special treats. Actually, that is every day, isn't it?

(Black cats are the hardest cats for shelters to find homes for; so the next time you decide that you want a new cat, consider adopting a black cat from your local animal shelter. After all, black goes with everything.)

I will let you into the afterlife for a fish, says Anubis.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Credit where credit is done

[The following was written for the August's Hearthstone Community Church's monthly newsletter.]

My wife and I have a monthly routine – sometime after the Open Full Moon ritual we talk about it. If she wasn’t there, I attempt to explain what happened. If she was there, we talk about what we thought worked and did not work. In both cases, we discuss what we might possibly want to incorporate into our own personal work. Yes, we raid useful techniques and lore from the performances of other people’s rituals…that is what the OFMs are for, ain’t they?

Now over the years, I have discovered something interesting: Some people are uncomfortable with me admitting to the fact that I consider any lore and/or technique displayed in public to be fair game. Even more unsettling for some people is the fact that I openly admit to this selective bit of piracy, citing exactly who I stole what from.

I have gotten good at being able to spot the people who will be disturbed by my tendency to grab anything shiny that is not bolted down. The poor disturbed souls are the same ones that try to impress me with the spiritual teachers that they have studied with and the breadth and length of their lineage which typically stretches back to the early Stone Age and sometimes before. They are the people who have talked to members of the Invisible College, and have been anointed into the Fellowship. They are the people who believe that only a perfected being of the proper divine nature can create a useful esoteric system.

And I drive these people nuts. Not only do I grab interesting bits and pieces that were left lying around, I will twist and bend them until they are left in a shape more pleasing to my aesthetic senses. Worse, if I have nothing useful in my bag of “liberated” treasures for the task at hand, I have no problem with just making something up. In other words, I dare to walk upon the ground reserved for the unknowable and perfected creators of the esoteric systems. To these people, I am not only a lunatic – I am a possible heretic.

Now, please do not think that I am referring to anyone that attends the Open Full Moon rituals. Our attendees are quite open-minded, and probably do the exact same things that I do, which is to grab anything useful or shiny that is exhibited in front of them. No, I am talking about people who would never dream of leading an OFM (because the mysteries and rituals are meant only for the eyes of initiates), attending an OFM (what could they possibly learn that could enhance their pristine tradition), or even admitting that they learned something from a flesh and blood human being (because only perfected beings should be teaching).

I think that what drives them mad the most is the simple fact that I give credit to the people that I am borrowing information from. Many of these disturbed souls hide the sources of their information behind deep oaths of secrecy. And often, the information is credited to the occult equivalent of Superman, the terrible and awesome Secret Chiefs that have throughout history guided mankind to a better future. I guess that they think that if a superior being created the information, it somehow makes it more valuable. To cite one’s sources, placing the information and techniques that I am using into the world of imperfect human beings threatens their position at the top of the occult food chain – it implies that their information too must have been created by flawed human beings, and that is something that they just can’t seem to tolerate.

Yet I think that they miss the most important aspect of citing my sources, and borrowing from the living and oh-so flawed human beings that I know. And that is, if the flawed human beings around me can create techniques of beauty and usefulness, then so can I – and so can you.

[Alia, one of the other board members added an addendum to this--"Nine words th'eclectic rede attest: Steal what works. Fix what's broke. Fake the rest."--Steve Storm.]

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Coffee Tea or Secret Chiefs

Sorry Nick, my Secret Chief passport expired.
So it is now down to the wire for the Secret Chiefs to show up and shoot Nick Farrell with large amounts of lightning bolts for being so ballsy that he challenged them to show up and smite him dead. As for my Secret Chiefs (aka my cats), their passports are expired and they think that I should front their travel expenses, and quite honestly they believe that Nick Farrell might kiss dogs with that mouth of his, so he will have to just go unblessed by their presence.

Now, exactly what does the results of this challenge prove? (Provided that the Secret Chiefs do not show up at the last second just to annoy me by making me rewrite this blog post.)

One, it proves that some people do not believe that the Secret Chiefs are physical beings who are hard-wired into the Golden Dawn tradition. And they will continue to thumb their noses at anyone who claims contact with the physical Secret Chiefs--including citing this challenge as proof that the Secret Chiefs are not physical beings.

Two, it proves that some other people will continue to believe that their leader is the only person enlightened enough to deal with the Secret Chiefs despite the lack of any witnesses to their existence outside their own leader's best friends and wife. And they are really good at explaining away all reasonable doubt that the lack of independent evidence causes--there are a few churches that wish for that level of pure faith in their followers.

Wait a second--didn't we already know this before this challenge was issued?! My cats could have told you this, and they are too lazy to do the proper Grade signs. In other words, one group will continue to say that the Secret Chiefs are not physical beings while the other group will claim that everyone else is too unwashed to be blessed by their presence. Status quo remains the same.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pentacle jewelry now available (also Triple Moon pendants)

Some of the pentacle and triple moon pendants that my wife is making.
For those people who were interested in ceramic pendants featuring pentacles (pentagrams), there are now some available on the Celtic Soul Jewelry and Pottery shop on Etsy. Plus there are several Triple Moon (Triple Goddess) pendants available also.

Forest Green Pentacle on Black Star
Oasis Blue Pentacle on Pansy Purple Star
Blue Purple Pentacle on Black Star
Robin's Egg Blue Pentacle on Dark Blue Star
Pansy Purple Pentacle on Black Star

Backs of pentacle stars are unglazed.

Pentacle Stars are priced at twelve dollars apiece ($2.25 USA shipping, $4.25 Canada shipping).

Triple Goddess--three phased moon with clouds--Oasis Blue, Blue Green, and Dark Blue
Triple Goddess--three phased moon with spirals--Oasis Blue, and Mottled Blue
Triple Goddess--three phased moon with clouds--Robin's Egg Blue, and Mottled Blue

Backs of goddess/moon pendants are unglazed.

Triple Goddess pendants are priced at twelve dollars apiece ($2.25 USA shipping, $4.25 Canada shipping).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Another variation of the GD Cipher script

Under normal conditions, I would wait at least another day after a Tarot Blog Hop before posting another post, but I am too excited about this very minor discovery to wait. And yes, it is a very minor discovery. I get excited by unimportant me an occult nerd.

Yesterday, a list of the Leipzig University magical manuscripts started to make the rounds in our little occult community. One of the manuscripts in the list is Cod. Mag. 65--Magia cryptographica s. tractus de modis occulte scribendi. Das ist unterschiedene magi, which contains magical alphabets (cipher scripts). Of course, I just had to leaf though it because I am still a ten year old boy who is fascinated by codes and ciphers. I may not be able to read the language (after a year of college French, I can nod dumbly), but I can still look at the pretty pictures.

And on page 14 of the scan, I found a variation of the Golden Dawn cipher alphabet. Yes, I have worked with the Cipher Manuscript scans enough to recognize the cipher script when I see it (call me an occult nerd). So, this manuscript (from 1750s if I am reading the catalog information correctly) contains the third variation of the Golden Dawn cipher that I encountered in my research (or obsession as some like to refer to it). None of the variations are significant--you can basically read the script and figure out the differences--but it does indicate how wide spread the knowledge of this particular cipher alphabet was.

Page that the GD Cipher Alphabet is on.
Here is a close-up of the cipher.

Variation of the GD Cipher Alphabet.
You can compare this variation to the version in the 1561 edition of the Polygraphia (pictured below), and to the version that the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript was enciphered in (which has been published in several books, including one by Carroll "Poke" Runyon, M.A.). Fun stuff, isn't it? Ok, I know--I am just a big old occult nerd. Feel free to go back to your more important stuff.

Page from the 1561 edition of the Polygraphia bearing the GD Cipher.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Mystic Tarot Feast

Welcome to the Lammas 2013 Blog Hop. The subject for this blog hop is "What we can share from our table with the community." Which led me to make a joke about some tasty cat food...which led to a reminder that this blog hop was about Tarot...which led me to offer the cat food served on the Fool one thought that this exchange was funny, other than me--which is why it was best that the whole exchange only happened in my head.

And the point of that imaginary story?

I will get to it eventually. Promise. Provided that it actually had a point. And maybe even if it didn't have a point.

One of the weird things about my childhood is that I grew up reading Emma Bombeck. Well, I find it weird because it makes me sound like I had a normal childhood. For those who do not know, Emma Bombeck was humor columnist (back in the stone age of actual newspapers); she wrote a twice weekly humor column about being a mother in suburbia.  It is estimated that Emma Bombeck had thirty million readers across the nine hundred plus newspapers that her column appeared in, and had written four thousand columns over the course of her thirty-one year career. It is from her that I got the urge to be a newspaper columnist.

I didn't get the chance to be a newspaper columnist until I was in my forties (late to college I was). When I was first asked to work on the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver, I attempted to talk my way into doing a column--but they needed reporters more than columnists. Ironically, I did end up being a columnist within the first semester--I ended up writing an astrology column. It might have been better than my proposal to write about college life as a non-traditional college student.

And I made a lot of stuff up, starting with the very idea of the columns in the first place, and quite often ending with at least one sun sign being pure imagination and/or inspiration from an astrology or Tarot book. Occasionally, I would make up a story about the associated trump card to figure out what the sun sign was like in a given situation. It amused me that readers thought that my made-up nonsense was the truest part of the columns ("That is so me." "I know someone exactly like that.")

Being a columnist is much like being a blogger...except that the pay is slightly better. You have a deadline; you scour the neighborhood for an idea; you start off a column positive that you can finish it; and you struggle to finish it before you submit it.

Being an astrology columnist led me to doing a monthly column for the Hearthstone Community Church's newsletter (the Open Full Moon People). It was a matter of money--as in I had no money to toss into the cauldron to help pay the church's rent. So kicking it around, I realized that I could do a monthly column for the church. Hence, I started to do a monthly column about Wicca...and other stuff.

Three and a half years later, I am still going strong. Well, strongish. And some columns start off with me having to pull a Tarot card to spark my imagination. Which often involves conversations in my head--I told you that I was going to get back to the imaginary story--I talk to myself a lot as a writer. Of course, I always wondered how many of the stories Emma Bombeck told were true, and how many of them only happened in her head.

And that is what I believe that I am sharing from my table with the community: My charm and wit in humor form...or is it lunatic form? Besides people locally reading the column for free, three of the articles have been collected into a free ebook by me (Barnes & Noble; Smashwords; Kobo).

And here, you thought that I was only inflicting my opinions on people though a blog--silly people. Of course, I am not sure how many people know that some of the columns I do have their origin in a deck of Tarot cards. Perhaps, we should keep that secret between ourselves.

Evil croissants banned by Muslims

A religious committee in the town of Aleppo, Syria has just banned croissants, forbidding Muslims from eating them. Why? Because the crescent symbolizes European victory over the Muslims, and is a sign of colonial oppression.

Seriously, I am not making this up.

And all this time, I thought it was just a French thing. I didn't realize that it was a snotty French thing. Well, I knew it was snotty...because it is French; but I did not know that it was twirl your little pencil moustache and laugh at the poor helpless natives you conquered snotty. I imagine that slapping an egg, cheese and some ham or bacon or both (actually skip the egg, and just leave the cheese, ham and bacon on mine) is even worse...well, it is not kosher, which may or may not make it less snotty. But it is the shape that makes it snotty, and evil, and which mocks the conquered. Now, I know ("And knowing is half the battle--GI JOE!"). I have the sudden urge to serve croissants at the next open full moon ritual I led (which may or may not be in December--long story short, I might be pitch-hitting in December unless someone volunteers to do the OFM ritual). That is probably wrong, isn't it?

So how can we make croissants be about the oppression of the upright and noble by the evil SRIA?

(Oh, c'mon now--I can't be the only one that thought that when seeing this story.) 

Please leave your comments about how evil and insensitive I am to the insanities of religion and the noble seekers of truth, light and justice. I promise to read the comments while snacking on fresh croissants, expensive cheese, sipping on fine wine, and laughing in a horrible French accent while twirling my moustache.

[Full disclosure: I have a Frenchman in my family tree--I am allowed to mock the French. As for everyone else insulted by this post, I am not sure how else to treat the barking mad.]