Friday, September 25, 2015

Magical Order of Aurora Aurea is closing its correspondence course

Today Nick Farrell announced: "The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea is no longer offering its correspondence course. Those who are already in it will continue to be supervised. It has been running now for seven years; however in the last 18 months, we have been getting complaints that it is too difficult for modern people. I have no interest in dumbing it down -- it weeded people out, but more recent candidates have not continued past lesson three."

And I understand this---there is a reason why the EOEW/BIOGD/BIORC correspondence course has gotten so little attention---and it is pretty much the same reason.

For those who are interested in a Golden Dawn correspondence course, I have been recommending the book, Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition (Cicreo), and its (unofficial & unauthorized) support group Sanctuary of Mau.

Someday, I do plan on creating a print-on-demand course, but it is not high on my list of things to accomplish anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Even the pirated Necronomicon sells well

Last night, I was doing some research for one of my little projects---a Mythos Gang story---Bast and the Mittens of Destruction (this is a working title; it might be changed by the time I finish the story).

[For those who are curious, the Mythos Gang is a series of "adult children stories" that I started writing a couple of years ago before the "great depression of 2014---damn, those fucked up meds." I have never actually completed writing one yet. Besides I am writing them to amuse myself, so it does not matter if none of them ever get finished. Anyways...]

Last night, while searching "Necronomicon" on Amazon, I stumbled across this ebook listing.

Someone is selling a pirated copy of the Necronomicon.
Yes, that is right; someone is selling ebook copies of a scan of the Simon (Avon) Necronomicon. And when I say "scan," I mean "pretty lousy scan from an yellowed copy of this fraudulent grimoire."

See--it is just a bloody scan!
Now, this type of crap happens all the time. One of the arguments that pro-book-pirates make is that no one is making a profit from their piracy. Unfortunately, that is not universally true. And this is a perfect example of someone making a profit off a ripped copy of someone else's work.

Oh dear, someone is making money off of this. 
"How much profit?" you ask. Well, if we take the indie writer sales estimation formula (designed by indies for those snoopy indies who are curious about other people's sales)---one hundred thousand divided by the sales rank (100000/140538) equals daily sales (.71)....or 21 sales a month. Without knowing what percentage Amazon is giving them, and where their sales are coming from---let's just call that 21 dollars a month in royalities for a pirated book.

And this listing has been up since December 2013! So assuming sales have been constant from the beginning---this pirate has made four hundred dollars off of this pirated book.

I am not sure about anyone else, but I kinda feel like I am in the wrong profession. Why create new stuff when you can just rip off other people?

Actual customer reviews of the pirated version. 
And his? her? zisr? customers seem oblivious to the fact that it is a ripped copy. Now, I do not expect much from people who buy the Simon (Avon) Necronomicon---which may have been created as a practical joke---but really? I particularly like the one that says, "Excellent book. Presents actual text that John [Dee] worked with so draws the reader directly into the essence of ancient wisdom & magic."

(In all fairness, all occultists, witches, and magicians are assumed to have a copy of this book. I own a copy myself---a copy that I brought at an used book store.)

There seems to be no ebook edition of the Necronomicon.
Now, I firmly suspect that the reason that people are buying this badly scanned ebook is simply because there seems to be no official ebook edition of the Simon (Avon) Necromonicon. I do wonder why that is....though given that the book has never been out of print since its initial publication and seems to sell well, I am sure that the publisher sees absolutely no reason to issue an ebook copy.
Fuck! This is a damn good sales rank for a "fake" book.
Just how well does it sell? Well, if the wonky formula is to be believed; it sells five copies a day. That is a whooping 1825 copies a year. And even if the formula is giving us the wrong number, consider the fact that this book is number nine in the category of occultism---I know that there are some occult writers who would consider murdering someone to get that rank in the occultism category. In my case, I would consider murdering the pirate selling the bad scan for profit; my defense would be that piracy is a victimless crime. (What?! Am I stretching that defense out more than the people who argue that in book piracy justifications? I think not.)

Anyways, so this has been a rant; therefore, it must be Wednesday in Mad Uncle Morgan's world. Have a good evening.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Card of the Second Harvest (Tarot Blog Hop)

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Hi everyone! I am Mad Uncle Morgan. And welcome to another edition of the Tarot Blog Hop.

My regular readers will note that this is the second blog hop that I have done this month; the first one being the Tarot Jam blog hop. For those doing the hop, there is a chance that you just came from the Denver Tarot Convention blog, which is actually a guest post that I did about a Tarot field trip during the June 2015 convention (I was assigned the task of taking a photo for the Tower card).

As always if there are breaks in the hop chain, you can always go to the Master List to correct your course.

The idea for this hop comes from our wrangler's experience of creating a Maninni Tarot deck ("maninni" is Italian for "many little hands"). Instead of trying to create a whole maninni deck, we are focusing on what Tarot card is best suited to represent Mabon, the second harvest and the Autumnal Equinox.

Now, for those people in Golden Dawn, or who study its Tarot system (Book T), there is no question which cards are assigned to Mabon....or is there? If we were only looking at the Wiccan holidays from a Northern Hemisphere position, we would have clear cut answers. The problem is that the Southern Hemisphere is (sort-of) dealing with Ostara as we have Mabon in the Northern Hemisphere. (I say "sort of" because my understanding of the seasons is that they are not the polar opposite of ours; seasons are unique to their location. For instance, Egypt has three seasons, not four that Europe and America has. Therefore, the Wiccan Sabbats as created inside Traditional British Wicca are not a good fit for much of the globe.)
Golden Dawn Tarot system applied to the Wiccan Sabbats
I first became aware of this problem when I started to design the Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Sabbats (now available on Amazon). Initially, I considered using the Tarot as the basis of the magical images for the Sabbats. (A magical image is an image that is used to connect with the energies of a divine or astrological force, for the purposes of divination, mediation, and magic.) I also considered using the traditional images of the zodiac degrees that the Sabbats fell upon.

It was the Southern Hemisphere problem that convinced me that this was the wrong solution to use. (When I was involved in the Sanctuary of Maat, several of the students that I was proctoring were living in Australia and New Zealand--thanks to them, I became acutely aware of the fact that the Southern Hemisphere and its seasons complicated things that were considered cut and dried in the Northern Hemisphere. Today, though the Sanctuary of Mau, I still deal with Golden Dawn students in the Southern Hemisphere---therefore, I tilt at the Southern Hemisphere problem still on occasion.)

My solution to the problem was to treat the Wiccan Wheel of the Year and its eight Sabbats as symbols of a mystery tradition, and not as solid fixed points in time. Basically, I came to the conclusion that the Wiccan Wheel of the Year was an artifical creation, and part of a modern myth cycle designed for modern pagans. Once that decision was made, I could divorce the holidays from the zodiac wheel. This also meant that the Tarot was unsuited to the new system that I was creating.

In my script of the Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Sabbats, I described the magical image of Mabon as "A man wrapped in ivy and grape vines standing in front of a standing stone. He holds a horn stuffed with grapes and corn, and he makes the sign of silence." Since that initial version, I have made a couple of chances in the magical image for Mabon.

Mabon as a Tarot card/ magical image
I have modified the image so that the figure is no longer using the sign of silence. The figure is now standing in a vat (barrel) full of fruit and grains. The horn that the figure is holding now also includes grain.

My use of the magical image is representative of issues where one is in the middle of an income cycle. One has already recieved profits and income is at the half-way mark, but one still have some profits and income that has not been recieved yet. It is also representative of taking resources and converting them into something else, like turning grains and fruits into alcohol; or taking raw clay and chemicals to produce pottery.

If I was to replace an existing Tarot card with this image, I probably would put it in the place of the Three of Cups. Or maybe the King of Cups. But I am most likely to use this image, and the other seven Sabbat images, as part of a "side deck"---cards that can replace or be added to another deck. Or maybe as part of an oracle deck. Honestly, I am not sure yet. And we are in the days of print-on-demand Tarot and Oracle decks--there is nothing saying that we are stuck using the only traditional seventy-eight cards.

So that is where my current development of this particular image is at. Thanks for reading, and please consider reading some of the other posts in this edition of the Tarot Blog Hop.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fourth Western Mystery Conference has been cancelled

Jefferey Lee Contrersas (S.O.M.A.--Society of Magical Artists) announced yesterday that the Fourth Western Mystery Conference has been cancelled.

And I wish that I could say that it was a big surprise; but last month based on things I heard though back channels, I suspected that it was going to have to be cancelled. Quite simply, there were not enough ticket sales to pull it off.

Unfortunately, Contrersas sunk a lot of money into this project, going into debt to try to make it   happen. And he might still be on the hook for even more money---the venue is going to charge him an extra twenty-five percent on top of the deposit that Contrersas had already gave them, if they can't find someone else to rent out the building for that weekend. Every dime that Contrersas took in from ticket sales went towards the non-refundable deposit on the venue. And yes, that means that ticket refunds are going to take some time to occur.

(Plus, a lot of attendees are going to be out hotel deposits and plane ticket fares.)

[Update 2015.10.22: A follow-up post concerning a donation page to help with ticket refunds.]

And now, that I relayed the news, it is time for Mad Uncle Morgan's soapbox.

Please note that I am not talking to those who buy tickets to such events, or who actually buy occult books, or pay lodge dues. I am just talking to the whiners who want to see these things done for free or dirt cheap.

For those people who complain that there are not enough magic and occult conventions, this is why there are so few. You all want them, but a high percentage of you are unwilling to pay for them (and ticket sales is how these events get funded...well, outside of the massive money sunk that the organizers suffer). And yes, it boils my blood when I encounter someone who argues that there should be no cost for attending such events (because that monetary burden should not be dumped on the people who spend their time and energy organizing such events).

It is a lot of work to put on such an event, and it requires a massive budget and bankroll to pull events off.

If you want events, you have to be willing to buy tickets to such events. You also need to spread the word about such events. These events don't just magically happen.

And while I am at it, the same goes for occult books. I just loathe those people who think that occult writers should write and distribute occult books for free. No. No. No. It is an insult to occult writers to expect them to give up time, energy, and personal experience to feed your need for occult books, and to do it all for free. If you want new occult books, you need to accept the fact that writers need to be paid for their hard work.

Same goes for working Orders. Running an occult Order is hard work, robs one of personal and magical time, and is a pain in the ass. Yes, there are a few crooks out there (which some of you have no problem giving money to---is it you paying for the sizzle, and not the steak?). But most Orders are operating at a loss.

Oh, there is no local magical lodge. Are you willing to pay for one to exist? Oh no! That's why there ain't one in your neighborhood.

I don't care how much you do not like it---money makes the wheels go round. Remember that the next time, you want one of the leaders in the occult community to do something for free.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Getting to know me (Tarot Jam)

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Welcome to the first Tarot Jam blog hop. My regular readers will note that this is the second Tarot based blog hop that I am talking a part in. The other one, the Tarot Blog Hop, happens a week from today. 

As always in a blog hop, if you like, you can navigate the hop though the Previous and Next links; and if there are any breaks in the hop chain, you can use the Master List link to hop over the broken sections. 

The theme of this blog hop is: Getting to know me as a Tarot blogger.

....I am not sure that I have ever done this subject on this blog. If I have, my apologies to my regular readers. If I haven't, I apologize for not doing it sooner. And as always apologizes for me being an opinionated angry blogger. 

My introduction to Tarot came in 1984. I may have read snippets about the Tarot before that point, but I had never actually see a Tarot deck in the flesh (so to speak). And quite honestly, I couldn't get a Tarot deck to work for me to save my life. (Therefore, I used "Norse" runes for years instead.)

When I stumbled my way into Hathoor Temple (1992)---a sort-of Golden Dawn lodge (no actual connection to the original Order), my superior forced me to create my own Tarot artwork. At the time, I did not see the point. And let's be honest, I am a terrible artist--the only thing worse than my writing is my art. 

But the Tarot did start working for me, so I guess that my superior actually knew what he was doing. And that is about how far as I ever advanced in the study of Tarot. I know the bare minimum about Tarot.

A couple of years ago, when I started doing the Tarot Blog Hop, I started to create my own set of Tarot cards---simply so that I did not need to worry about copyrights and obtaining permission to use images of other people's cards. My cards are....well, let's go with fugly as a description (I think that they may actually make people's eyes bleed.) 

There are times I like to pretend that I am going to finish the artwork for the current Tarot deck that I am designing (and we all know that is not going to happen), and actually find a way to get it published (yeah, no legitimate publisher is going to touch it), and sell a few copies (and by a few, I mean none at all). 

Mad Uncle Morgan (Morgan Drake Eckstein)
Quite honestly, I have no clue on how Tarot works. It does. And I have no current theories either. I leave that to the experts, those people who can do twenty readings a day, write decent articles, and perhaps even design decent cards. 

Fool from Mad Uncle Morgan's Political Tarot
Though the course of my current "art project," I have came up with a list of questions that I ask as I get ready to design a card. Basically, I ask:

What are the main symbols of the existing versions of the card?

What is the card's central meaning?

How does the card fit into the rest of the Tarot deck?

And what are my personal symbols to convey the card's meaning?

As the example shows, I get an F on all four questions, as well as an F for being able to draw anything better than a stick figure.

Some questions to ask when designing a Tarot card
Well, at least, I have no illusions about my abilities as a Tarot reader, writer, and artist.

Thanks for reading, and consider checking out some of the other posts in this blog hop---posts actually written by people who know what they are doing. Have a good day.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Yes I said that (judgement and trust edition)

Earlier today, I read a post on Facebook where someone was asking about whether Buckland's Big Blue Book was legit or not. And I realized that I was judging people (and their ability to give correct Wiccan answers) based on their opinion of that book.

I mentioned this in another group. And someone questioned my right to judge people.

And I answered that I had no right, that I was just an angry blogger.

Then I tossed out this baby:

One of the nastier parts of being a human is that we have to occasionally judge people--do I trust this person with my money? Do I trust this cook not to poison me? Do I trust this person to give me decent answers about Wicca? It is an ugly thing; but if you trust everyone, sooner or later, someone has stolen your shoes.

Yes, that is right--that is my justification for judging people.

And feel free to judge me in the comment section---you know that you want to.