The Art of 2D Communication

Recently, my boss took myself and the other supervisors from my job on a field trip. I got to spend two eight-and-a-half hour days in an auditorium with decent acoustics so I, and my coworkers, could listen to important people in leadership positions talk about, well, leadership. The leadership conference was simultaneously boring and thought-provoking. After coming home on day 2 and being asked how it was, all I could really say was that at least I wasn’t in front of my computer all day.

There were some very interesting tidbits, but I didn’t really bother to take too many notes or pay close attention through most of it. I found much of what they discussed all but useless. Or they were things that I already knew so I promptly tuned it all out.

However there was one presenter that had a piece where they discussed, and I quote directly here, “2D Communication in a 3D World.” I found myself sitting up and actually taking an interest. That interest was not because of my job and how I work behind a computer screen every day. The first thought I had after she said that was, “the community.”

Too often, we are communicating with meat suits across the Internet separated by computer screens or tablet/cell phone screens. While this networking can be stimulating and aid us, it can also be frustrating because we live in a world where we are raised to listen to nuance and read subtle body language to determine a person’s emotions relating to a topic. They may be speaking monotonously but you can pick up by their body language or by the way they over enunciate just how they may actually feel about the topic at hand.

Pen pointed neatly above my notebook, I waited for some amazing piece of advice to resolve conflicts that may occur because of our failure to read facial and body cues. And the answer from this amazing presenter was to get up and go have a conversation with someone instead of sending that possibly confusing email.

Well, by golly gee! What wonderful advice… for people who are close enough where that’s feasible.

Since there was no great advice, no great secret ready for me to use the next time I accidentally found myself in some deep shit because of the very 2D communication problem that is very real for all of us, I had a silent fit and then wondered how I could use this. How could this complete lack of a substance from an alleged leader help me, help the community, help anyone for fuck’s sake?

Well…

One of the first pieces of advice we supervisors will give to new or established employees is to “slow down.” Too often, we have emails flying in and out of our inboxes, blowing through our work flow as quickly as possible to open us up for non-client facing work. However the desire to shoot off a quick response can cause trouble:

  1. Strategic words missing
  2. Words misspelled
  3. Run on and confusing sentences
  4. No concrete purpose or substance

Any one of these can cause a world of hurt for us, but all four taken together could potentially lead to disaster.

In an effort to prevent something horrible from happening, we tell everyone to slow down, to re-read what you’re writing, to take a moment before hitting send to make sure that everything in the email is appropriate and what you needed to say. People claim that they do this but I can tell you that the amount of times that I have gone through my employees’ emails, whispering, “what the fuck,” to my computer pays the lie to their assurances.

So the first piece of magical advice I have is: “slow down.”

As exciting and thrilling as it may be to get some word vomit out and into cyberspace, when you are working on building interpersonal relationships with strange meat suits across the world, the more important thing is to make sure that what you’re saying makes a lick of sense. From conversations about our gods to disagreements about word meanings, we all need to take the time to step back and really review what it is we’re trying to convey.

Many of us with blogs already do this, so it’s not as if it’s an impossible exercise. Most of us take the time to be clear, concise, read and re-read what we want to convey in our blog entries. Most of my entries can take a week, or more, before they’re as ready as can be to go out onto the Internet. So it’s not necessarily a difficult thing to begin to add into this step into our inter-community discussions in forums, servers, and Tumblr posts.

If we all took an extra five minutes, or even more, to re-read and think about to the list of four things above before sending out a response, we could prevent a large amount of miscommunication (or auto correct fails).

One of the second pieces of advice we give out to our staff is to have someone else read over what you’re trying to say if the need arises. In our world where our conference call recaps can span a good three pages in a Word document, we have to make sure that we are being as clear and concise about what is being done and what the next steps are for our projects. Any one of the four things listed above can cause trouble on some of our projects, but taken all together, we’re asking for trouble.

We let our staff know that if the email they’re trying to send out is long-winded or convoluted, beyond slowing down and re-reading what they’re writing, it’s always best to have someone else review the emails. I will send my more confusing emails to other staff members – both supervisors like myself or other staff in the office – to have them take a look and make sure that I’ve hit all of the salient points that need to be touched on. Not all of my staff use this either, but they’re learning more and more as I guide them on how best to communicate with our clients that I’m always willing to do a quick email review to make sure nothing gets missed.

So my next piece of magical advice would be: “beta readers.”

We all have friends in the community that we bounce ideas off of or share issues with. These are the people who you can rely on, if they’re around at the time, to review something you’re trying to get out and onto the Internet. Fan fiction writers tend to have beta readers that go through and offer feedback; why not people who are trying to work within a community entirely derived over the Internet?

When the topics at hand can be as personal or impassioned as can be, we need to take the time to find someone to read through what it is that we’re saying just to be sure that nothing gets missed. I have done this for friends’ blog entries as well as response posts when the shit has hit the fan. I have also had my friends do this for me to make sure that what I’m saying is accurate, concise, and as clear as possible. This step may delay the post going live, but sometimes waiting for that person to read through what you’ve written is more important than immediately publishing whatever comments you may have.

If we took the time to have someone review whatever it is that we want to say, it could also cut down dramatically on misunderstanding across the community.

Sometimes, I must have difficult communication with representatives, clients, and vendors that I work with on a regular basis. I am not a person who enjoys having these types of high level conversations, but occasionally we need to have difficult conversations in order to save the relationship, to ensure that the issue that occurred doesn’t happen again, or because whatever process we determined could work here didn’t in fact work and now we need to come up with a new one.

Leading up to those types of conversations, there is usually a flurry of back and forth between myself and whomever I am ultimately going to have this conversation with. And quite often, when someone thinks that their point of view is the only point of view that matters, this can lead people into a state of high dudgeon. This is when it is always best to step back before heading into that conversation.

If I walk into these types of conversations in the midst of a paroxysm of anger, I am not doing myself any favors. And I am not going to be doing anything productive with that conversation because I’m too busy assuming that what they’re telling me is wrong or a lie.

So my next piece of magical advice is: “take a break.”

When it comes to facilitating a community, especially a text-based one, I think this is probably the most important piece of advice that we can give to ourselves and to others. Tempers can snap or fray because the conversation is so close to who you are as a person or to something you deeply believe in. Arguments can stem from an emotional reaction or the reading of tone where none was meant. It is always best to step back and walk away than to give in to the temptation to either defend yourself when no defense is necessary or to think critically about what has happened and how best to respond.

If we can give ourselves even ten minutes of time to walk away from the conversation and focus on something else, you can come back to it a little bit more clearer minded. This can help you to decide how best to respond, if you even feel a response is merited at that point anyway. Taking a break can give you that extra time you need to come down and determine how best to proceed.

Communication

Unlike my job where I have the option for phone communication and in-face meetings, a purely text-based community is going to have its issues with miscommunication. No matter how often we refer to magical advice or do our best to hypothetically put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, it is going to happen; it’s inevitable when other human beings are involved.

The only magical piece of advice for when it finally does happen to you is to be able to be critical enough of the situation and yourself to think about where it went wrong. Instead of doubling down on who is right and who is wrong, figure out where you may have made mistakes when communicating and learn from those mistakes for better communication in the future.

Further Reading

  1. Boat Paddling: The Second Rule of Kemeticism
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Broken.

Last night, I was cleaning off Sekhmet’s altar. Every Sunday, I try to clean it up and refresh the flower offerings I have on there, as well get rid of the dust. Though I offer her my homage every morning with refreshed offerings, dust builds up pretty quickly. Carefully, I emptied all of the items off of the altar. And just as carefully, I managed to drop her icon. In tears, I fell to the floor, cursing myself for the bad devotee I must be. I knew that the icons I had for my deities are more prone to breaking then the mass produced resin ones I’ve had. (I’ve dropped Sekhmet’s resin statue time and again with no damage.) I knew that I had to be exceedingly careful when I migrated them from one place to another, but I still manage to let it fall to the floor.

As I cried about being a terrible devotee and for being so stupid, I thought everything was all right. The piece I thought would break – the uraeus and sun disc – were still attached. I thought I had managed to escape this. But, no. After clasping the image in my hands, I noticed that a part of the main had shattered. Her face was intact. Her sun disc was intact. Nothing else broke off the base of the statue, but just the ruffle of mane on the right side of her face. And I began to cry in earnest. I pressed the piece onto the table and began searching like a mad fool for the piece(s) that had broken off. I managed to find one piece, still semi-attached, but couldn’t find the bulk of the rest. I searched all across my kitchen floor, but found nothing. My repeated searches underneath furniture and beside furniture came up empty. (I suspect that the piece rocketed into the heating grate in the floor, but I can’t be sure.) Thoughts of gluing the piece were disintegrating before my empty hands and I felt nothing more than a vileness so thick that I could have vomited.

How stupid you are, I scolded of myself. How could you let this happen? You know what could happen. You’ve had this happen with your Djehuty piece. You were lucky then – the head didn’t fall off. But you were too stupid to pay closer attention. Were you in such a rush to get things set to rights that you couldn’t think more clearly? What is the matter with you? How do you fix this? Why would you do this thing? HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE? WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHY CAN’T YOU THINK CLEARLY? WHY ARE YOU SUCH A FUCKING BAD DEVOTEE?

This isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts in the last two weeks. I spent a good part of my Saturday – not this past one but the one previous – berating myself for being such a lazy, fat, and awful devotee. On Saturdays, once the weather changes, I attempt to get out to one of my local cemeteries to spend time with the Guédé. Though weather patterns are rapidly changing, it usually starts cooling off once September hits so that I can actually go out to the cemeteries without worry of causing myself heat exhaustion or heat stroke. (I’m terrible about keeping myself hydrated in the winter, never mind during a hundred degree heat with high humidity.) I ranted and raved at myself for being such a lazy asshole and for being a very bad servant of the Guédé. As a kind of, “I’m so sorry, Bawon,” I gave him some booze and soda.

That fuzzy white thing sure moved fast. I have no idea where it went after I looked away.

That fuzzy white thing sure moved fast. I have no idea where it went after I looked away.

This past Saturday, I went to my local graveyard. This is the one that I’ve spent the most time in and have gotten to know the residents very well. This is also the first cemetery where I truly felt that I had connection with the Guédé and where I first felt the presence of Bawon. As I came upon his and Maman’s grave, I saw a beautiful white caterpillar crawling across her gravestone. I felt the message therein – she, at least, was telling me that I was okay. She was trying to explain to me, I felt, with this caterpillar that I can come when I come and I do when I do and that I’ve given so much of myself over the last two years to the projects and servitude I have for the Guédé that it’s okay. I may even go so far as to say that, perchance, she believes I am not such a terrible servant after all. But the point is that I felt as though I were one. I have a job to do – I do it. It doesn’t matter what the background chatter in my mundane life will be, but I do it.

In same vein, I felt as though I were a truly bad and terrible devotee of Sekhmet’s to allow something so careless to happen on my watch. I have a job to do – I do it. It doesn’t matter what the background chatter in my mundane life will be, but I do it.

Sometimes, however, the background chatter in the mundane are just as important, if not more than whatever task or devotions or services we are providing.

I have a hard time budgeting my spoons on a regular basis. Some days are better than others. Most of my budgeting is done on the fly. “I think I have this many spoons so I should be able to do this, this, and this.” But the thing is that I always end up with less spoons than I plan for. Due to this, I always end up stretched too thin. I do this at work, I do this in my personal life, and I do this with everything else. Part of the reason why I’m as introverted as I am today is because I fail at budgeting the spoons. I think, “This is more important right now so I’m going to do that.” The thing is that whatever “it” may be could look pretty damn important, but is it actually worth the spoon I may be utilizing for it? That’s my problem. I think everything deserves the spoons I have budgeted for it, whether the spoon exists or not. But the big huge thing here is that not everything actually deserves a spoon.

What I do during the day at work, invariably, is something like this: I see something that I need to do and then I do it. This is usually part of some project work that I have going on for various clients. Project work is not a top tier concern and takes backseat to most everything else. But I do it anyway because, eh, why not? However, right after I do the thing, then something more pressing comes in to give me heart palpitations. This is usually a high level repair situation for one of my various clients. And I end up working that repair for the rest of the day. Not all days are like that, of course, because there are some days where I don’t have a single pressing repair concern at all and it’s nothing but project work. However, while taking my time with my projects is something mandated because all repairs are top priority, some of the minor shit that I get done may not have been really necessary (either by me or just on that day). I just did it because I happened to have a free second – a second that I could have been utilizing in some other fashion or saving up for future use.

So, I enter work and I have all these spoons. My irises are in the shape of spoons – like money signs from the old cartoons – because I think I have so many to spare. But then something more pressing comes along and I have to drop everything to the wayside to see it done and quite possibly, whatever I’m dropping is very pressing to someone else (like the site). And then I feel like I can’t prioritize worth a shit.

This is a very serious problem.

This is also something I do with everything in my life. It’s not just something that’s work related but also something entirely devoted to anything going on in my life. I think I have enough spoons to do the dishes, wash some laundry, read a book to my son, clean off some altars, and the whole nine. However, what actually ends up happening is I have so much laundry that I need to do that I end up wasting spoons on that project when reading to my son should take a higher priority. I think that cleaning the altars before I can even remotely think about going to bed, even though I’m dead tired after doing a three-day working (this is literally what I did with my weekend when I wasn’t cleaning or grave-tending this weekend), because I’m a bad devotee if I don’t get it done.

And mistakes happen.

And accidents happen.

And everything else get shunted to that “later” that never actually ends up happening.

Recently, this story went viral across the Internet. I’ve seen it in reblogs on Tumblr as well as on posts on Facebook. With each time I’ve read it, I’ve taken something different away from the story. This weekend, after re-reading it for the millionth time, I realized that whatever parts I was taking away from it were not what I needed to take away from it. The point was that the golf balls are the important bits. While I tend to believe that my faith is an integral part of whom I am, and in some ways it is, it’s more a pebble than a golf ball. The things that are golf balls should be my family. They should be making sure my home is clean (OCD – not as bad as some but sets my teeth on edge when laundry baskets are full and dishes are in the sink). They should be going grocery shopping or getting the piddly little shit we need to keep a clean home. Nothing else should even compare unless I decide that something – my faith – should be golf ball sized.

I haven’t made that decision yet, so right now, it’s still just a pebble.

The lesson with the broken statue and the caterpillar aren’t really that I’m a bad person and that I can’t do whatever it is that I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it. The actual lesson is that I need to budget everything better. If that means I need to make a schedule for both at work and at home, then that’s what I need to do. And if that means that something more pressing comes up – a repair situation or book that needs to be read – then that’s what takes top priority.

Spoon management, man. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read with a certain little man.

Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Finding Balance.

Seriously. This is me, in front of my laptop, like every day.

Seriously. This is me, in front of my laptop, like every day.

Every day, I open up my laptop with the intention of adding a bit to any number of my various drafted blog entries. I wake up in the morning, full of ideas and insights that weren’t there the night before. And I have the intention – the good, good intention – of adding yet more food for this blog and its readers. When nothing gets accomplished in the morning for all very good reasons, like my son waking up too early or the ideas not coming to fruition for whatever reason or feeling like warmed over death, I decide that I will come home and do all the things that I need to do. But, when I get home there are yet more very good reasons as to why I can’t get the time in to write a new blog entry or add to the ones that I have planned. All of these reasons are wonderful and fantastic and they are legitimate in many instances – such as the day before yesterday when I came home and snuggled with my not-feeling-so-hot son and then fell asleep for nearly twelve hours. That’s a pretty good reason, but it doesn’t help me or what I’m trying to accomplish. And as I sit here with The Breakfast Club in the background, I am still faced with the exact same issue I had yesterday, the day before that, the day before that, and the day before that. I have content that I want to get out there – whoosh – but I just have all of these very good reasons as to why nothing comes of it.

While pondering this lack of energy this morning, I began to wonder if I was getting sick with something. My son was ill with a kind of stomach bug the last two days that left him listless, cranky, and napping throughout the day. Some of my symptoms were similar: listless, cranky, and desiring to sleep a lot. This line of thought made me, jokingly, decided I was suffering from mono or something. However, I have to admit that I don’t really get sick. I have a bi-yearly chest cold that comes around because I am a smoker. (Yes, everyone; I kill myself one nicotine-filled drag at a time.) But aside from that, I really don’t get sick very often. And I have to, also, admit that I have no way to actually contract mononucleosis so that’s definitely not an adequate cause to whatever listlessness has been plaguing me in recent weeks.

My thought train, on the way to work, shifted back to the thought that perhaps I am suffering from depression. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to do and after my weekend-filled fit Memorial Day Weekend, things have been pretty much on the up-and-up. All in all, if this is a depression thing, I legitimately can’t figure out what the cause would be. I can usually, after a bit, figure out what the cause is. I’m fairly good at doing reviews over my mental health and figuring out what any cause to any oddity in emotional output or mental output that I may have. Years of suffering from depression have aided me here in being able to pinpoint, fairly quickly, what it is that is happening to me at any given moment. And I have to admit that while I did my minute check this morning on the drive to work, I had to come up empty-handed. Things aren’t perfect in my life – not by a long stretch – and there are bits of connections that have been burned to keep myself sane enough to salvage things at a later date in time. However, even without those intense connections, I can say that depression isn’t the cause of all of this.

Whatever it is that has been causing my lackadaisical practice lately has nothing to do with depression or illness. While blogging isn’t necessarily a key portion to my religious practice it is, in fact, a decent part of it. I have a compulsive need to get the information out there, not just for my own records but also for the edification of everyone who reads this blog. It was something I had decided on when I began working on this religious path to begin with, when I decided to start a blog for that path, specifically. So, really, the issue here isn’t a matter of not having the energy, not having enough spoons, not being able to get the words to come forth and whoosh into the world for myself and others. There’s an issue with the religious path itself or something related to it in some form. If I can’t get the words out to discuss what I’m doing or to instruct others in things, then there’s got to be some bigger picture thing that is impacting me.

I have to admit that I think one of the most difficult aspects to having a new religious practice is that you don’t necessarily turn to that religious practice when either your life massively implodes with all of the things that can make it do so or when your life is calm, cool, and quiet. I know that I am guilty of this and I also know that I am not the only one. I’ve gone on, and recently, about how we need to prevent major hiccups in our lives from allowing us to continue our practice. The thing is that just because you know you should continue to turn to your gods – even as the Christians can and will do – it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to maintain it. There’s a lot of hard work and energy one must put into the relationships we have with the gods and in some instances, we don’t think that maintaining our relationships when things are too huge is necessary. Or, in same vein, we don’t have the energy or drive. Or, we are too distracted by those major hiccups to even give the time of day to the gods. Or, in this particular instance, when things are so even-flow and quiet, we need to remember that the gods are around and what we do to maintain those relationships with those gods is just as important now as it was a week ago, two weeks ago, last year…

We just need to stop getting complacent, I think. And I think it’s complacency that is my problem here. I’ve been so complacent with my practice and what I do to maintain it that I always just figured it would just, well, be there. I could have major hiccups and minor hiccups or no hiccups at all and everything – the gods, the practice, the fulfillment – would just be there, waiting, for when I was ready to come back.

The problem is that there is no guide book, no manual on how to do these things. Many of us will look to the ancients for some kind of indication of what we need to do and how we need to do it. (Obviously, not everyone does this because not everyone is recon-oriented.) We will comb through our sources and try to find some indication of exactly what living in ma’at is all about and how we can bring this remote, un-American, un-English, un-Western idea into a land of possibilities, of realizations, of actualities. The thing is that we can look to the ancients as much as we want. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be some ah-ha moment and everything will click into place. And point of fact, many of us are trying to utilize this whole living in ma’at concept from the layman’s perspective. For the layman ancient Egypt, it wasn’t a philosophical practice; it wasn’t something to be discussed. It just was. But we modern-day practitioners are not so lucky in being able to accept it just being and therefore, doing it. We have to think, to ponder, to decide, to theologize, to philosophize, and to finally decide what it is to each one of us. When we finally get to the point where we can finally say, it is this thing, to us, then we get to enter the realm of magically putting it into practice.

And for me, living in ma’at is what I’ve been discussing in these range of posts: it is doing before thinking; it is action items; but above all, it is a balancing act. And there in lies the very issue, the very point to this post: I’m not balance. I have found an imbalance and this particular one has to do with my religious practice – the blogging, the grave-tending, the rituals, the heka, the celebrations, the educating – taking a significant down swing.

And it shouldn’t.

I can come up with a rash of excuses off of the top of my head to explain why it is my religious life that is the down swing now. I can tell you about how busy my life is, which it is. My work life has taken off to the point where I am exceptionally busy every second that I am at work. There are many, many new projects that have finally come down the ever looming pipe line to plop into my life. I’ve taken on more responsibility now and that is also a part of it. My relationship nearly dissolved because of a lack of communication and a lack of spending time with one another (among other personal items) and that was just not okay. My personal life, specifically the life I am weaving with my significant other, has taken on a more important role and cuddling, talking, bonding, and making stupid jokes with one another has taken a seriously important place in my life as well. I am constantly busy, thinking of ways to keep our relationship on track with an ever-present fear that things will go back to the way they were and I will be alone. All of these items could be considered acts of my religious life and if I’m looking into what living in ma’at actually is then they are all aspects of it. But they don’t feel like they are part of my religious life: my significant other does not share my religious life with me in any way (being an agnostic) and my work life is difficult to incorporate into my religious practice (even with Djehuty being the de facto god of telecommunications) because my boss is very, very Christian.

What have I laid out here, folks?

Excuses.

I have to admit that they are pretty good ones, but it comes right on down to being yet more excuses for something that is a problem.

And let’s face it, this whole imbalance is a complete problem. If it’s so prevalent that it is preventing me from being able to spend time with my blog – my beautiful, wonderful, heartfelt project – then I have a very serious issue. But, what makes this issue even worse is that I didn’t realize there were problems coming down the turnpike until I had begun to manifest issues with my blogging. This says to me that while I may inculcate that ma’at is a form of balance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have been able to work on exactly how that balance works. And this is something that not only do I have to start working on, but I think there are other Kemetics who have been in similar situations or who are currently in similar situations who also need to figure out exactly how to balance one part of our lives with the other.

The first step, I would say, would be to stop disassociating the two, three, or four aspects of our lives. Somehow, Christians have been able to incorporate their beliefs into their work lives, their personal lives, the educational lives, and their religious lives. While not every single one of them are successful in melding them into a functional format, I know that there are some who have easily been able to overcome this task – maybe not easily, but at least have done it – and are living fulfilling lives across the board. So, how does a person who belongs to a very minor religious movement begin to balance out everything and mesh into something workable, functional, and in some cases, quietly so as to prevent being fired or ostracized?

I haven’t figured that part out yet. But, when I do, I’ll be sure to tell you.

Related Posts

  1. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at.
  2. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at II.

Once More, With Feeling.

Anon, I say; to the shenans!

Anon, I say; to the shenans!

I think one of the hardest and most common of things that pagan bloggers discuss is the community thing. These entries are difficult because we’re trying to throw items out there to a wide, non-inclusive environment to get the community ball rolling. And this topic comes up about once a month in the pagan blogosphere, making it probably one of the hottest topics out there. I’m not joking when I say that I’ve harped on this topic quite a few times and so have numerous others of my friends on their blogs. Frankly, I think we all get tired of writing about it and I bet that the readers get tired of hearing about it. The problem with this attitude, from both perspectives, is the fact that we need to discuss these items as often as we do because, more and more, we are hearing and reading of other pagans’ deep held desire for a community feel to their practices. But, unfortunately, just as often, we end up hearing and reading attitudes, platitudes, and regurgitated word vomit from others, whether they be a Big Name Pagan or otherwise, that denote just how low on the priority list fostering a community is.

And this is a problem for myself and for all of the members in my integral, core community.

The pagan community is not allowed to have nice things.

The pagan community is not allowed to have nice things.

This morning, I woke up to a blog entry that was making the rounds because my friend, Devo, was featured in it. The title immediately put me off, though there are probably people out there who would or will get a kick out of it. “Saturday is Now Pagan Fight Night” by Sannion is an attempt at either trying to commute the hot-headed debates that went around because of his commentary on pop culture paganism or to continue to get hits on the blog without original content. In either case, this is yet another sterling example of just the type of over-the-top, childish, and ridiculous behavior people like Devo fight against when they start fostering community. On a more personal opinion regarding this debacle, I find this on the same level as my five-year-old son’s attempt at misbehaving to garner attention. In my son’s case, however, I know he will learn a lesson, but in this case… maybe not.

The actual point here is that Sannion is a bad cookie and as a supposed Big Name Pagan should be held accountable for his behavior. However, maybe he shouldn’t be. In response to ginandjack‘s comments on that iconic PCP morass of his, Sannion straightforwardly explains, “I think I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I don’t consider most pagans to be my co-religionists.” This is borne out in his “what’s the point” entry, in which he states, “I mentioned that I am a fundamentalist in that I believe that the gods exist and they are many and anyone who believes otherwise is wrong. End of debate.” By his own words, he is not a part of our community. And as I’ve mentioned here, assholes need not apply to my community.

I think on occasions like this, of which more will come down the turnpike, we need to all re-think what our responses will be. I’m sure that, in this particular childish moment of Sannion’s, more and more bloggers will begin to comment as it hits the pagan gossip trail and more people decide how they feel about this particular instance. And while I think being honest about your opinions and feelings is important and necessary, I think that the bloggers in question need to be held accountable for their actions. I think they should be shamed and humiliated for seeking the lowest common denominators and jumping on that particular raft of ridiculous wholeheartedly.

Justice must be done!

Justice must be done!

Instead of staying up and requesting clarification to posts that are pretty obvious in their content, I.E. the “I’m right and you’re wrong” variety, we need to explain to them that we will not stand for such behavior from people who are touted as “hot shit” in the community. Just as we hold our children accountable for misbehaving, so too should we do so from people who would paint us all with a bad name. We need to make it quite clear that they will not receive any sort of positive reviews from us, that we will not send practitioners with questions in their direction, that we will not assist or foster “debates” with them regarding whatever subject matter, and that we will not tolerate gross behavior from people who will be lumped within the same pagan category as us [by outsiders].

I think we all need to pay attention to behaviors like this as a kind of telltale sign of what not to do when you want to foster a community, but I also don’t think we should allow such ridiculous behavior to continue unchecked. By allowing such things, we are complete misrepresenting what the pagan umbrella is about and what it is that we want from our religion. We are also giving yet more fodder for the larger religions to continue to treat open pagan practitioners with contempt and bigotry. And at the very, very least, we are teaching future generations of pagans and polytheists that it is quite all right to be a dick.

So, to review, being a jerk is not okay. We need to make it quite clear that this behavior will not be tolerated. Also, behaving like you’re some pagan version of a reality television show is not okay. And treating people like they’re fodder for your personal amusement is not okay. As a group of people who have our own demons to fight on a daily basis, it is perfectly okay to call someone out on their monstrous ego and explain to them that this is not okay, will not be tolerated, and should be frowned upon by the larger community.

Pop Culture Paganism.

Disclaimer: This is one of those posts that will piss someone off, somewhere.

My son has this really ridiculous habit of requesting people refraining from doing something because he doesn’t like it. My son is five, so I get these ridiculous requests quite often. In every instance, I’m sure to say a variant of the following, “Is it hurting you? Is it hurting other people?” The answer, in each case, is that whatever he wants someone to stop doing is definitely not hurting him or anyone else he knows. It is at that point that I point out to him that not only is whatever it is not hurting him, but that it doesn’t impact him in any way. He gets the point but the ultimate lesson of “mind yo’ beeswax” is kind of lost on him because he’s five.

The reason I mention this is because this is all I can see with the sudden influx of pop culture paganism (henceforth, PCP) debates goin’ round the blogosphere. In those instances, I am instantly thrown back to a moment where I am continuously attempting to teach my son to mind his own business. Whenever someone starts waving around, pointing fingers, and generally being an asshole about PCPs and their practice, this is all I can see and think. However, instead of an adorable five-year-old’s face with two missing front teeth, I see the pagan sphere as a kind of overblown version of that iconic movies scene of torches and pitchforks, each citizen intent on catching Frankenstein’s monster. Only in this instance, the form of this legendary beast has suddenly taken the form of the not-so-mythic pop culture pagans (henceforth, PCPs) and the egregore that they have relationships with.

So, someone please explain to me how in the world whatever they are practicing is bringing harm to the very people so outspoken against it? Someone please explain to me how in the world whatever they are practicing is bringing harm to the pagan hemisphere in any context? If I were in an auditorium, I would literally poll every single person sitting in front of me. Unless PCPs’ practices are going to cause imminent danger to you or to someone you know, then frankly, shut the fuck up about it. I hate to break it to everyone whining against the practices therein but since they are not going to bring harm to you or to others, then they are not doing a damn thing that impacts you in any way, shape, or form. And as I tell my kid on a nearly daily basis, “Mind yo’ beeswax.”

We are fighting so hard against each other that we are forgetting that there are more important things at stake than who can or should practice what. We are so focused on the in-fighting between ourselves that we forget that we should be uniting and presenting that united face against the world at large. We are already considered crazy by many and child-molesting, animal-sacrificing dunderheads at worst. And yet, we can’t even unite long enough to win any form of legitimate acceptance in the world, at large. There are still people who are having their homes attacked as well as people who have been killed for being a practicing pagan. And yet, those of us who are privileged enough to live in an area of the world where a general acceptance of our practices are so fucking focused on PCPs and what they do that they need to write endlessly long, rambling, wordy posts about it?

Get the fuck over yourselves.

Get the fuck over the fact that people are different.

Get the fuck over the fact that each person can practice in their own way.

By excluding an entire section of paganism, you are doing the community you are praising so highly a severe disservice. Not only are you, possibly, pushing away future converts to paganism who are interested in PCP, but you are also removing the very real possibility of another part of the community that you may actually need some day. One day, we may all get together and start demanding that we be taken seriously, with placards waving and legal protests organized against the Christianization of a nation that was not founded on any one religion. And the pagan with the placard beside you may just end up being one of those PCPs you’ve been ranting and raving about on the Internet. No imagine that fake protest without them there, another sect pulls up stakes and disavows its pagan roots because too many assholes made them feel unwanted in a fractured, immature community that is nowhere near where it should be.

Those PCPs that you are busy offending could be the very reason we get accepted as a legitimate religion, one day.

Not only are you behaving childishly, clique-like, and foolishly when you are so busy ranting about what they do, which is not hurting you, but you are bringing to mind a very “interesting” subsection of American culture. They are also very exclusionary… They wear ugly white robes and have a thing for placing burning crosses on people’s lawns. I’ll let you think about my vague metaphor a moment and then mention yet another exclusionary branch of humanity. They also wore pointy hats, but their uniforms tended toward green and they had a thing about racial purity. Only instead of placing burning crosses on people’s lawns, they killed millions of whomever they deemed as undesirable.

While I would like to assume that my fellow pagan “community” wouldn’t go so far as all of that, one never knows. The propaganda against PCPs and their practices has already been written. The nasty PR is already gumming up the works and painting what was once a clear issue – don’t be a dick – with Vaseline and smearing it all up to hell. And all because a bunch of people don’t particularly care for how someone else practices their religion. (As someone from Massachusetts, I have to admit that this story sounds oh, so familiar. I wonder why.)

And as I made it quite clear in my head covering post about the drama from last year,

I came into paganism because I was sick and tired of the Abrahamic faiths making decisions about me and my body and my soul without my consent. Yep. That’s why I started out down this road. I loved the freedom that I’ve learned and discovered in paganism. And now as time goes by, I find myself more and more not wanting to do anything in this “community” because it’s turning into the exact same shit as I found when I was a fucking Christian. Before I know it, I’m going to have BNPs (big name pagans) telling me if I can get an abortion, use birth control, vote for the next presidential candidate, etc. And that really just doesn’t fly with me. The whole point, to me, in this practice is to be able to do what I decide is proper in my spiritual practice. And if that means that I feel the need to wear a white bandana on my head when I’m communing with the lwa, then so be it. If that means that I have to go running around naked under the full moon, then so be it. If that means that I have to tap dance to the National Fucking Anthem while touching my nose and patting my stomach, then so be it. This is my religious path and what I do is my fucking business. That’s what makes it MINE.

And that goes for anybody else who is a practicing pagan.

Their path, their rules.

So, metaphoric pagan police, just stop worrying about how this portrays the “community at large.” There isn’t a fucking community, at large. If we’re all so worried about what the hell other people are doing in their practice, long enough to write those blog entries about it, then we’re forgetting that we should be out doing instead of thinking. If we’re all so worried about what’s going on in the obviously fulfilling practice of those PCPs, then we’re forgetting about what the hell we need to do for our own practices. By writing all of those damn words lambasting a sub sect of paganism, then there are some things that your practice are not fulfilling since you can spend that much time being worried about public sentiment and others’ belief systems.

Get over yourselves.

Stop thinking about what other people are doing.

Stop worrying about how that may, one day, impact you.

If you’re so interested in community, foster one instead of being a dick wheel to someone who you don’t like or whose practice differs so largely for your own.

Get off your high horse and go do something productive for once.

And above all, don’t forget that their religious practice in their own and impacts you in no way.

Their path, their rules.

The Hermit.

Recently, my Radiant Rider-Waite deck and I have been in a hate-hate relationship. It started requiring a lot more energy than usual in order to use them. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault that this ended up happening, but it happened. So, I put them up and away for a while, telling them that they needed to behave themselves when I use them. And everything was fine until a friend of mine requested a reading. This friend has asked me a couple of times since I put the deck up and away for a reading and yesterday, I decided to pull them out. I tend to bring my deck with me to TH’s family get-togethers as a way to obviously ignore people. (Since apparently my reading means that everyone has to come over and see what I’m reading and ask questions, but not with Tarot cards – I don’t fucking get it.) And I figured if I was in public, the deck would behave itself properly. And it did. On a whim, I began shuffling and “lololol” asked it about my religious life. The first two cards of the reading were unimportant as I’m passed that, but my current phase? It’s the Hermit.

At first, I thought that this was entirely based on my community mongering. I’ve been so intent with community building and the project therein that I’ve written about needing one no less than once a month in the last year (or more). And in all that time, I’ve been so focused on the community that I’m having issues in my personal practice. The thing is that we are working with a religious framework that, while it is community based, is also outside of our normal framework. Many of us solitary Kemetics are coming into this religion from a monotheistic background, which may or may not have a communal backbone as Kemeticism does. (I know my childhood monotheistic practices were not community based, though there was a community within it.) And to compound the appearance of getting nowhere fast with the community posts that we’ve had going around, I’m rather tired of people as a whole and Kemetics, in minor. I go through phases where I am an extreme introvert, which is usually categorized as my “I hate everyone” or “let’s nuke the planet and start over” phases.

I said it was excessive, didn’t I?

The thing is that this is only part of the whole Hermit-ting the card is getting at. I can look at it in one aspect and see, “ah yes. I’m using too many spoons on that when I need to be conserving them for this.” However, I tend to view my divination practices as more than just simply two-dimensional readings. The card wasn’t just simple about having to pull back my spoons and pulling away from my community for a while. It was more about worrying about me, about my practice, and what that actually happens to be. I’ve become so complacent with my practice that I’m beginning to worry about everyone else and what they are doing and what sort of drama-mongering Tumblr is up to that I’m forgetting I have gods who need/want me, I have lwa that require me, and I have a life to lead.

On a whole, I think this is something that all people, of polytheistic, Kemetic, and-or pagan stock, need to pay attention to. If you send things out on the Internet all the time, what does your practice look like? How often are you online, worrying about what others think about you? How often are you online, calling someone else out on what you perceive to be a slight or injustice? Is your relationship with your gods suffering because you’re so focused on things that have no impact on you? Is your practice suffering because you’re so focused on “teaching a thing” to people who have absolutely no part in your life aside from having seen them in passing online?

I was so focused on what other people were thinking about me and worrying about not saying things that I felt because of how other people would react that I was forgetting the most important thing in my entire practice. I was at the point where I was so focused on coming home from work to see the latest drama on Tumblr or to see who was pissed off at whom on Facebook that I was forgetting about the most important facet in my entire practice. And that most important thing is me. There is no one else here who can pick up my mantle should I fall. There is no one else around who will be able to write the guide I’m planning for Sekhmet. There is no one else here who can do the work Papa Legba has asked of me should I get caught up in outsiders’ drama.

And frankly, what is the point in all the things that I’m doing with my practice if I’m focused on other people?

My practice, as I’ve been harping on lately, is orthopraxic. I don’t have to sit around and debate theology with anyone about anything (although I will, occasionally). My religion has nothing to do with what I’m thinking or what Joe Blow Tumblr is thinking. This practice is about what I’m doing. And if I’m focusing on other people and other things, then all of the shadow work, SVP entries, grave-tending, and devotional acts go down the drain. They all end up failing the ultimate test, which is to create a functional, cohesive practice on a solitary level so that, maybe one day, we can create a functional, cohesive practice on a community level.

As Sekhmet said to my earlier,

Being a hermit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good thing. It’s not an act of selfishness to lock yourself away from other people. It is an act, as you are already aware, of unconditional love. And sometimes, those acts of love require you to step away from the whole and work on the one. I haven’t been working so hard on you for all these years for you to be of no use to me now.

Kemetic Round Table: Inadequacy.

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.

Inadequacy is one of those things that tends to hit human beings at the least opportune time. You can be in the middle of doing a huge ritual and that voice in the back of your head starts whispering things about how you must be doing it wrong. Or, you can be about to fall asleep and that voice pipes up about things that you could never actually successfully do because that voice is a douchecanoe. But, we all have that voice. We all have those whispers that feed our poor self-esteem and our inadequate imagery. This imagery and belief about how inadequate we are to the gods, and in my case, to the lwa, may in fact be completely fucking wrong.

I will be honest here, my inadequacies don’t necessarily translate over to my religious life. There are moments, don’t get me wrong, when I feel like what I’m offering the gods – inadequate. There are moments when I feel my attitude – inadequate. There are moments when I feel like my rituals – inadequate. I think everyone has at least one moment, at some time in their life, where they think that what they are doing, saying, thinking, and believing doesn’t measure up to some invisible yard stick. I’m not perfect. In fact, I am pulling so much stuff out of my butt about 99% of the time that I literally can tell you that I have no fucking clue what the hell is going on in my religious life about as often. But, when thinking about this topic, I realized… I really don’t feel very inadequate with the netjer I have relationships with. I know I’m not perfect, but… does it matter?

You see, I wonder if the reason we feel inadequate is because we believe that our gods have some invisible servant/devotee/child image of us that they measure us up to. In working with all the gods I have going – and more, apparently, on the way – I have to say that I don’t really worry about it. If I’m in the middle of doing something that feels right, such as celebrating a festival or creating a spell or working up heka, then I’m not necessarily going to let myself stop long enough to doubt myself. Before the event, I may ponder and hem and haw about what to do. After the event, I may mutter and moan about something I forgot to do. However, when I’m in the thick of my religious life and all that entails, I’m not really, really, really worried about whether or not I am fulfilling my duties with ineptitude or with satisfactory actions.

Here’s the thing, each of these gods is in my life for a reason. I know this isn’t necessarily the case with all other practitioners out there, but in my case, each of these deities showed up with an ulterior motive. Djehuti is around to remind me of my dream of writing. Aset is here to help me get over my magix issues. Hetheru is here because I wanted a mother/home deity in my home. Sekhmet is here because that’s her bag. (And personal.) None of my gods worry about me being perfect. None of my gods harp about how I am a tool. All of the Bigger Picture stuff that I discuss? It’s not made to make me feel like I’m inadequate for the tasks they want me for, but that one day, I will be awesome enough to be that tool.

They also knew, coming in, that I had faults. They knew that I was sexually anorexic or asexual. They knew that I was not willing to heal myself from my traumas. They knew they I had nothing but bad experiences with magic and thought all experiences would be the same. They knew that I had a dream about being a writer that I had given up on. They knew that I was a fledgling in the religion area. They knew that I had no fucking clue what the hell I was doing. They knew that I was sassy, importunate, and bitchy. And yet, they all still showed up, entered my life, and ready to work. I’m not being built up by them for some magical purpose except to live to my full potential. And that’s all they want from me. In a manner of speaking, we could assume all this Bigger Picture stuff, all of this shadow work, all of these side projects have the ultimate goal of fulfilling my intense desire to live in ma’at.

I will admit, I’m extremely surprised by everything that I’m writing. Of all the people I know, I’m the most nervous, the most anxious, and the one with the least amount of self-confidence. If we had been doing this blogging project even a year ago, I would have said, “I am not what they need. They need to find someone else. I’m just a nothing and a nobody and unsuitable for whatever they need.” But as I sat down, ready to explain to everyone that feeling like you don’t measure up to some invisible yard stick is bollocks, but it’s fine to feel that way… I realized that after a very long time of struggle, I’m finally comfortable with my Kemeticism.

And I think, at some point, everyone gets to that point. The thing is that may not necessarily mean that you, or I, will ever be “perfect.”

Look, let’s be frank. I’m not an expert. I don’t know what’s best. I just know what has worked for me. And I also know that how I’m living and working with my gods is probably entirely off-base with how they did it in ancient Egypt. So, I suppose that from an outsider’s perspective, I am inadequately measuring up to the historical standard. And you know what? That is just fine by me. There’s a reason I am recon-slanted and not a full-fledged reconstructionist. It’s great to have a basis in history, but it’s really stupid to try and measure myself to a standard that I cannot visually see and will never visually see. Besides, if the gods wanted the same thing they had in antiquity, don’t you think they would have, en masse, given us the information necessary to emulate an ancient practice?

It really doesn’t matter what other people are doing or how they are doing it. It really shouldn’t matter if you will be judged by those other people. Of course, you will be, just as I am and all the rest of my Kemetic friends are. It is human nature to make snap judgements and judge others based on those perceptions. And that’s perfectly acceptable for each human being who does it. But, you know what? That’s complete shit. As they tell my son at the library, Everyone can play in their own way and that’s okay.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret… The above phrase? About playing? That’s a good one for religion, too.

Suffice it to say, when it comes to feeling inadequate, most human beings go through this at varying points in their lives. Occasionally, it is mundane and the moment passes. Other times, it is religious in origin and the moment passes. In some other extreme cases, it can be a mix thereof and the moment just kind of lingers. Everyone goes through that.

Look, today while I was at work? I kept remonstrating in my head about things I really had no way of fixing, trying to make myself more competent for the next time some shitty shit falls my way. Consciously, I knew that the items in question were out of my hands. Consciously, I knew that no matter how much “I suck” feels I was having, I’m incredibly awesome at my job and really, I should always be reminded about how awesome I am. However, knowing I’m good at my job doesn’t stop me from feeling like I suck at everything and that I only ever handle things improperly. This is incorrect in every way and I did everything I could to deliver good customer service. However, we all just have those times where you’re feeling overwhelming and incapable.

The moment passes.

Sometimes, it requires more than a deep breath. Sometimes, it may require a long bitch fest, a stiff drink, and/or harsh music at ear-drum abusing levels. Whatever floats your boat and however you take care of the situation is all you. But, sometimes, the feelings are going to happen no matter who you are, how awesome you are, and no matter the situation. Human beings tend to want perfection, but we can’t always deliver. And in those moments, all I can say, it may just be best to take a step back, listen to some angry music, and wax poetic about how much you hate the world.

If nothing else, it’ll make you feel better for a little while.

Our Wants and Desires Don’t Figure Into This.

I’ve been having a bit of a personal depression session the last few days. Since my last post, and the commentary between both TH and I regarding it, I’ve just said, “fuck it.” It wasn’t even a big “fuck it,” but a minor one. I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling or why I was feeling it, otherwise I probably would have written about it. It seemed that whenever I was trying to puzzle it all out, something would come up or I would end up falling asleep or I would live in a quiet place in my head. It didn’t really matter. The point was that I didn’t actually want to know what was causing my “fuck it” attitude. It was there; it was going to stay.

In my big “fuck it” attitude, I’ve been staying away from all aspects of my altars. I won’t look at them. I won’t clean them. I haven’t removed any offerings. I haven’t done a damn thing with them. I don’t want to be bothered with any of it at this point. It’s not a lack of belief or a crisis of faith, but just a simple feeling that I’ve been eating, sleeping, breathing, dreaming, loving, and hating it all long enough where a break was necessary. I needed time off to figure things out. I need a quiet time long enough to decide what the next step happened to be. But, you know, I’m constantly reminded that “wants and desires don’t figure into this.” I may have a need for a quiet time, but the OTHERS™ I work with have another thought on that. In other words, Hekate started bothering me up a storm and no matter what I wanted to do – sit around, watch television, and not be bothered – she wouldn’t leave me alone.

Sit down with me, she was saying. I have a big message for you. I finally, angrily, submitted because I just wanted to get her off of my back. None of my usual trappings went into all of this. I didn’t light a candle. I didn’t light the Christmas lights over the altar. I didn’t sweep away some of the detritus from the bouquet of flowers I bought her for the new moon. I didn’t do anything except sit down, belligerently, and demand to know what the fuck she wanted. I pulled three cards and you know what they said? Get your head out of your ass. I slammed the cards away and threw my hands in the air. I said, quiet literally, “Fuck that shit; no. If my head is in my ass, it’ll be in my fucking ass.” Not quite poetic, even a little amusing, but I was angry with her “big” message. That was it? That was all? And as Devo reminded me earlier that day, this is me.

Yes. I do this at least once a week.

Yes. I do this at least once a week.

I blew off some steam about it and decided that maybe I should sit down with her. But, you know? The answers she had to give me had nothing to do with the initial cause of my being angry with all of this. None of this had anything to do with anything except the Big Thing that keeps poking into my life with little hints and fucked up shit. That’s what she wanted to tell me about, but I didn’t want to know about any of that shit. I just wanted to have someone to let out and cry to. She evidently wasn’t going to let me do that. So, I threw my hands into the air, put her divination tools away, and just flopped onto the couch for a while.

I started talking to Dee about all of this. And that’s when it really crystallized what was going on inside my head and my heart. It wasn’t that I was angry, in so much, with Hekate. It was that I don’t want this. I want to work on my shadow elements and whatnot; I want to become whole again. However, I don’t want all of this bullshit trappings that go with it. I remember the quiet days when it was just me and my Egyptian ladies, palling around. I had a lot of hard times during those months; I won’t lie. But it was easier. I understood them and I knew what it was that was wanted from me. It was easier. And I was so angry with Hekate and Papa Legba that all of these non-Kemetic trappings were happening.

I want to be a Kemetic, in other words.

But, again, my words always get thrown back at me because I’m actually really good at figuring things out quickly and I just forget my own message a lot.

Our wants and desires don’t figure into this.

I left it alone. I was doing much better with Dee’s advice the next day. In effect, she told me to get the fuck into the boat and quit whining about it. L had her own words of wisdom on it, too. She told me that I had better get in the motherfucking boat and quit whining about it and I had better start paddling before demons start to eat up my paddles. So, I started paddling. I got into the boat, with a lot of grumbling, and I started to paddle. But, I got some other fucking news yesterday that was pretty fucked up and made me angry all over again. It was part and parcel, but it also had little to do with it. But it made me so very angry all over again.

I stopped paddling.

So, last night, I went to take off my bracelet to Papa Legba before bed. I had been wearing my religious jewelry all day, feeling all connected and shit until the terrible news happened. The bracelet would not come off. I couldn’t grab the string that released the catch from the shells. It wouldn’t come off. I decided to just leave it there instead of breaking it to get it off; it wasn’t worth it. I also figured that it was time Papa Legba came into my dreams again. The last time he did, we went dancing to blow off some awesome steam. This time, there was no dancing. There was a lot of fucking arguing, though.

Before bed, in a fit, I went into rave-mode. I just began to unleash all of my steam at him and Hekate both.

“What the hell is the matter with you two? Isn’t part of your job supposed to be to help me out as well as to take care of me? If I’m fucking homeless, how am I supposed to do anything for you? Or is that the new big lesson you have in mind? You want me homeless, living out of a fucking car? I am done. I am so fucking done. I am beyond done with the two of you. No more offerings. No more booze. No more coffee. No more flowers. No more chocolate. No more little gifts. No more motherfucking nothing because I’ve fucking had it with your uselessness. You expect me to bend over backwards for you, but what are you doing for me?”

Apparently, Papa Legba had some feels on my rant because we argued for the rest of the night. I don’t even know what the hell we argued about, in all honesty, because I’m just not that grand at remembering our moments together. But, we fought about what I said and the offerings. We fought about what he was doing to “help” me. We fought about the Christian friend and that bullshit. We fought about the misconceptions of outsiders. We fought about offerings. We fought about everything. I remember, at one point, his desperation when he said something like, “You just can’t stop. You can’t.” I don’t know if the desperation had to do with the idea that I would stop working with him, cold-turkey, or if it was the thought of losing the offerings I provide.

I really don’t know.

It doesn’t matter.

This morning, I got up and I gave him his hot coffee. This afternoon, I will go out and buy him a small bottle of Cruzan because he really does enjoy it.

I guess I made a decision here.

I’ll keep fucking paddling because my wants and desires don’t figure into this.

I Didn’t Want to Know This.

I didn’t want to write this post. In fact, the second this happened, I’ve been staying away from the computer almost in its entirety. If I was staying away from the computer, then I didn’t have to work on the entries I have in draft form. If I didn’t have to work on those entries, then I could put off writing this one. However, I knew last night that my time about writing this up was limited. It’s only a matter of time before Hekate comes in and does her version of a HULK-SMASH to get my ass in gear. She tolerates a lot of sass from me (I think she sometimes regrets the relationship we have), but there’s only so much I’m willing to go for. I know better than to piss off someone of her magnitude… says the girl who sasses the hell out of Sekhmet. Heh.

When I got the feeling that I needed to have a sit down with Hekate, I figured she was going to tell me how proud she was that I did the curse. It’s a pretty big step for me. I’ve talked before (in the entry about it and elsewhere) about how I’m not the witchiest person alive. It just seemed like that was the point. But when I finally got around to sitting down with her, she was very gleeful. And very, “take your time, dear; get ready for me.” While the glee made sense – yay, I’m making progress – the whole “take your time, dear” part got me a little worried. This particular feeling regarding the sit down was pressing, but it also wasn’t. Normally, I will put off our sit downs for a week or so before I actually get around to doing it for various reasons. This one was, “now, but take your time,” which was a confusing jumble right there. She told me to make a relaxing cup of tea (I did) and to get the party started (and we did).

That was about the time I sat down for a ride on the NOPETRAIN and haven’t gotten off yet.

The first card pull was the Tree in Fall, the Crescent-Crowned Goddess, and the Words of the Magus. None of these cards were telling me anything particularly easy to identify. And there was a definite “no, this isn’t congratulatory,” feeling going on. Frowning, I looked the meanings behind the cards up, my brow furrowed as I tried to figure this the fuck out. The first card is about the time of releasing that which no longer works. This correlated with the process of me actually going through and doing a curse. And actually, these types of cards have been pretty much staples in our sit downs. That’s the point to what we’re doing together; we’re releasing all the shit that no longer works. However, the second card, the goddess one, is about maintaining the vision with helpful messages from either the dead or oracles.

HUH?

I had received an oracle reading a while back from the friend who helped initiate my relationship with Hekate. In effect, it talked about working with Persephone, which I’ve refused. I don’t work with Greek gods for a reason. If I’m going to be working with gods relating to the dead – and I’m going to have to work on the things with my father, I think – then I’ll seek out alternate, Kemetic sources. But, this didn’t seem like a reiteration of the oracle that I had received a while back. This seemed something different. What the hell were these messages from the dead? Was that to do with my strong, intense feelings of setting up little altars for the Deadz that I encounter? Or am I getting messages and I’m not listening? Or should I sit down at a cemetery and do my Tarot of the Dead stuff again? And what the fuck did this have to do with “maintaining the vision”? WHAT FUCKING VISION? (As I think about this card in more depth, I am beginning to believe it relates to the Fet Gede Tarot Reading I did for myself.)

The final card is all about constant lessons. No matter how advanced you think you are, there will always be more lessons. To me, that was kind of a “no duh.” But, in all honesty, what lessons? Are we talking new lessons? Are we talking old lessons to relearn? WHICH ONES?

So, I pulled a clarification spread for the second card, since this one left me going, “Eh, what not?”

I received the Three Great Realms card, the Voices of the Wind card, and the Elder Staff card.

The first card discussed more depth and connection than what is on the surface. In relation to myself, I think I’ve come a long way and have considerable more depth than I once did. In going through my oldest entries, I still just grin at how completely childish they were. (I know I’m not alone here, either in laughing at myself or in others laughing at themselves in the beginning.) But, I think it also talks less about myself and more about my practice. For years, it was very surface heavy if that makes sense. It’s only been in the last year, with the year that I took off from work, that I’ve been able to make any headway on what I’m looking for and what ideas work for me. It’s only now that I’ve been able to get into the nitty-gritty of my relationship with Sekhmet and see how it really is. (And let me say, awesome, is a piss-poor word, but it’s as good as I can get.) This last year has really shown me how much my religion matters to me and absolutely, how fucking religious I am. I’m well past the surface here.

The second card talks about a higher calling from the outside, worldly hemisphere. This is about the moment when I started thinking, “oh shit; I don’t think I want to know anymore.” This is something that I’ve not really discussed in this blog. I don’t discuss “higher callings” because I’m content with the onion hoeing. I’m always very clear and concise when I give advice or when I’m asking questions. “I’m not a teacher; I don’t really know anything, but this is what I did” or “I’m a layperson, but here’s what worked for me.” As far as I have been concerned, the whole onion hoing has been as far as a higher calling can be. I won’t deny that I have some dreams: books, ideas, temples. They’re pretty big, wide, silly dreams, but they’re dreams. I mean, I have a message on my wall that says, “those who reach, touch the stars.” I don’t reach and I don’t touch the stars. This is because I like the onion hoing but also because I don’t want to fall flat on my face. So, no. There really isn’t much of a higher calling here.

The final card is about helping others and teaching.

Fuck.

But, as she pointed out to me with brain-like screen captures in my head, I’ve been doing this whole thing already, haven’t I? I answer everyone’s ask in my Tumblr inbox as concisely and completely as I possibly can. I have offered advice on numerous occasions to newbs who have asked here, in Email, or in any of the other public fora that I belong to on the Internet. I’ve always maintained that I am here to aid and abet anyone who asks for that help. So, yeah. I guess I’ve been doing it. But, I’ve only been helping others; I haven’t been teaching.

I decided I needed to clarify again, just in case. I received the Broom, the Oak King, and the Hearth. The first card is about rising above all the mundane. The second card is about someone who can aid me in my success. (OH OAK KING. WHERE FOR ART THOU.) And the last card is about community.

Well, shit.

Is that what I’m doing here? Is that what I’m supposed to be doing here? Am I supposed to be taking all of the flock of boating Kemetics and help foster a fucking community? Well… BALLS AND SHRINE BOLTS.

I decided I needed to go for a last ditch effort. If this was something that I’m supposed to be doing, then what areas of expertise do I need to get into? What the fuck is all this community and teaching talk about? I mean, I have varying religious interests here. We have the main movers and shakers in my life in the form of my Kemetic work. However, I also have a pretty big, huge fucking space for the voodoo and Hekate. So, what the hell? This is about the moment that Hekate figured trolling me would get the point across.

The Fates; Oath; Mortar and Pestle; Athame.

Rapidly I asked, “Are you telling me to teach in a general sense?” I pulled The Fates. The point behind the card was not lost on me. Agitated by this response, and the symbolism behind that card, I pulled another card. “Do you mean Kemetism?” Yes. This card was the Oath, which again, there’s a symbolism there. Have I not sworn oaths to my Lady of the Flame? Have I not sworn oaths to that particular path in my life, to always have it as the most important path I follow? Yes and yes. On a whim, I asked, “What about voodoo stuff?” Yes. That one was the Mortar and Pestle. The symbolism here is the integration of outside elements (voodoo and Kemetism) to create a single substance (my practice.) If it wasn’t for voodoo, I wouldn’t have a Kemetic practice today. I was pissed and angry at this point, so I randomly shouted, “DO I TEACH ABOUT YOU TOO?!?!?” And I pulled out a yes with the Athame. Oh, so very funny that her card comes out as the instrument people utilize to focus their witchy intent.

When she started chortling in my head, I walked away and haven’t been back since.

I didn’t want to know this.

Newbies Make Mistakes.

Evidently, after my patented “Newbies Need Help” post, the message was received by all the people who agreed with me. This is great! That says, to me, that there are people out there with a like mindset, that helping is infinitely preferable than coming off as a raging douchecopter. Unfortunately, the post didn’t reach as big of an audience as it should have because there are still people out there who think behaving like raging douchecopters is the way to go. They think that treating people like shit will get the point across just as effectively as sending a quiet message to try to encourage the person to see the light of day. I’m sorry, but running into a situation with your holier-than-thou stick is not the way to teach kids the lessons they would have learned if not practicing a solitary, pagan practice. So, let’s get to the point here.

Newbies make mistakes.

I know this is kind of shocking and surprising, but it’s the absolute truth. A lot of pagan newbies are running around without any kind of sources aside from what they may find in a local library or what they may find online. We all know that everyone and anyone can make a website nowadays and fill it with whatever information they so desire. This means that dissemination of information may not be up to the standards of some of us older, more experienced pagan solitaries out there. But, you know what? The newbies really don’t know any better. I’m sure they are consciously aware that anyone can make a website and fill it with whatever filth and shit they may desire to put on there, but they’re not going to be aware that the website they’re getting their information from is incorrect or just completely stupid if you don’t tell them. And why is that? Because they make mistakes.

And as I’ve mentioned a time or two before, it’s pretty fucking important to learn from our mistakes, but to also go into this knowing that you’ll make them. It’s a part of the learning process. However, not part of the learning process is this sudden desire to “stick it to” the person who is the middle of the mistake. And really, it’s not quite that these pagans who are older, wiser, and so should, therefore, know better, are “sticking it to” the mistake-wielding newbie but that they’re so gung-ho on teaching in the most asinine, horrific, and morally reprehensible way possible. I’ll cite an example I watched unfold before my very eyes.

A very young Wiccan made a broadly generalized declaration that the reason they loved paganism so much was because it was must more free and truth-filled than the fake Christians they are used to associating with. I thought the post had a bit of merit, but I also felt like, you know, it wasn’t all the truth. Still, whatever. The Wiccan made the comment and then a bunch of older and wiser pagans decided to leap down the person’s throat with the intention of showing them the mistakes. They came wielding baseball bats when a simple, “Hey, that’s not exactly true. Assholes come in all different shapes and sizes and religions,” would have sufficed. Since the young Wiccan was attacked, the Wiccan backslid and apologized. This galvanized the older and wiser crowd to come back down upon them with bigger and heavier and harsher words. This made the youngster backslide further and then try to explain the viewpoint they were hoping they had shared. This was, again, not taken very lightly because yet more people bitched the poor thing out instead of saying something firmly like, “Assholes come in all different shapes and sizes and religions.”

In this particular instance, the real mistake was that the Wiccan made a broad generalization because they are not able to communicate effectively with local pagans. Since this person cannot co-mingle with other pagans and Wiccans, they are unaware that pagans can be assholes and fake just as much as any Christian out there. The further mistake was when the older and wiser crowd felt the need to punch that person in the face with the knowledge that assholes truly are alive and well in every religion, including paganism. They made this apparent with their holier-than-thou sticks ready to wield as weapons instead of calmly correcting a mistake. This is not how you fucking teach someone from their mistake. And in fact, is probably the best way to get them to stop practicing because all you’ve done is shown them that co-mingling with other pagans may not be in their best interest because if they make a mistake, they will be called to the carpet when a simple explanation would suffice.

As a parent, I can tell you that this is the most ineffective and asshole way to teach your kids. And as an older and wiser pagan, I can tell you that this is the most ineffective and asshole way to teach newbies in the field. When my son thinks it would be interesting to touch the wood burning stove in my in-laws’ basement, I explain to him firmly why this is not in his best interest. I don’t come down on him like a ton of bricks and beat him senseless to try to convey how worried and fearful I am about him being around a wood burning stove. In all likelihood, he will probably make the mistake of touching said wood burning stove. And while he will be punished for not listening after I have told him something, I’m still not going to take out a baseball bat and beat him senseless for not listening. I am going to correct the mistake as a parent. That’s something that older and wiser pagans need to take into account. Otherwise, I really despair, not only for the youngsters entering paganism and being taught in such a horrific way, but also for their children.

The thing is that youngsters make mistakes. They touch the wood burning stove after being explained why they shouldn’t. They spout out broad generalizations because they are excited and think that this bubble that they are in is the way it is for everyone.

Young pagans don’t know that not every pagan is open, honest, and truthful. Young pagans don’t know that because they chose Wicca as a religion then they don’t have to eschew colors and become goth. Young pagans don’t realize that not every pagan religion is the same. Young pagans don’t realize that website or forum X may not be the best place for them to congregate because the information is full of bullshit or is beyond the 101 they need. Young pagans don’t realize these things because they are young and they are new and they need someone there to hold their hands and explain this stuff to them. Not to post asshole pictures stating what some older and wiser pagans would consider “the obvious.” Not to post snarling, snarky commentary about what a fool they are for making X statement. Not to post bitchy, self-entitled rants about how stupid someone is for doing X in a spell when “clearly” that’s not how it should work. By doing this, you are doing a disservice to the new person in question and you are doing a disservice to yourself.

You’re coming off as an asshole.

We should all stop and look and help and prod the younger generation. Personally, I do this because it feels good to be able to give information to younger pagans. I love it when I get questions about where to research information on the Internet and what books they should consider purchasing. The feeling I get is beyond words. I feel good about myself and about my practice that I am someone who someone else can turn to, ask this question, and get substance in a response instead of fodder. And if the feeling good part isn’t enough to make some of these older and wiser pagans to sit up and help out, then think about it this way.

Most pagan religions are too young to have had generational followers thus far. I was born into Catholicism and raised Methodist. Other people I know who are practicing pagans are also coming from one of the Abrahamic faiths, seeking something more fulfilling. By being a complete and utter fucking douchebag to these newbies, you are scaring them off. You are sending them away. You are making it so that your own fucking religion will not survive. You are suffering from misanthropy instead of helping to foster a community so that we can stand together and face down all the asshats that think we’re evil Satanists that promote, well, more evil. In all honesty, all you’re fucking doing is killing off everything you’ve been fucking working on for however long you’ve been on this fucking turnpike.

So, my advice here is to get off your high fucking horse, eat a bar of chocolate, and stop thinking that your shit doesn’t stink.

You made mistakes just as much as any newbie you’ve verbally assaulted.

And that’s part of the whole fucking learning process to begin with.