Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey, this looks familiar...

While noshing and waiting for a miserable sinus headache to go away so I can continue the CLEAN ALL THE THINGS gulag, I was reading a Strategic Sorcery post about Raven Grimassi. And down in the comments, I found a link.

Of course I clicked. How could I not? Ah. Werewolves. Werewolves with Principles of Belief, no less. Thirteen of them! Thirteen of them...which look really familiar....HEY, WAIT A SEC: Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief .

Well, the werewolves did change some words and phrases, but I think you could still call them Wereplagiarists, as there's none of that pesky source attribution or anything like that.

And now I am going to go take some drugs and have a lie-down. This kind of crap always makes a headache worse.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am a spelling and grammar fiend.

I don't take it as far as some folks; one typo/misspelling/lack of punctuation isn't enough to send me to the comments section/reply button in order to completely ignore the content while I bash someone to death with Strunk & White. I don't assume a lack of proper grammar means that someone has nothing useful to say. Some people just never get punctuation, some people have dysgraphia/dyslexia/what-have-you, some people were busy doing much more interesting things in 8th grade while the rest of us were in class learning to parse sentences.

It does make it harder for me to read stuff when it's not "right", and my brain will refuse to go on until I have let it correct every "mistake" it sees. I am OCD about very few things, but this is one of them.

I've been reading another blog, Ex Libris Hieronyma, which I really like. Her misspelling of "alter" for "altar" was driving me a little nuts, until I considered the following possibility: if we witch-types do magic at our altars, thus altering things, maybe "alter" isn't the mistake I thought it was. At the moment, I have an altar at which I'm not doing any work; I'm just sitting at it and talking to my various gods. I have an altar in the temple/study where most of the work seems to be going on these days; maybe that's my "alter".

Too cutesy? Too much of that "language means what we make it mean" thing, when I think that most of us know that the words matter? Eh. Maybe you're right. But I had a new thought and got a new perspective, and I can't think of that as anything other than a good thing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kitchen Witchery?

I didn't learn to cook anything more significant than Ramen, scrambled eggs/omelets, or grilled cheese sandwiches* until I was thirty-eight. The few times I tried, disaster ensued - the most notable of which included Irish Stew With Enough Cloves To Induce Instant Numbness and The Beanloaf That Would Not Die. I had no idea how much spice to put in anything and was lost without a recipe.

One evening, for no reason I can discern, I took it into my head to make vegetarian chili. Having been in Texas for eight years and eaten enough Mexican food to qualify for some kind of honorary citizenship in said county, I thought I could figure out what it ought to taste like, and how to make that happen.

I actually succeeded, and despite the lack of meat, the First Husband was mightily pleased. This is how I started cooking. My repertoire is limited to what I call Mexican Stuff, Italian Stuff, Asian Stuff, and WASP Stuff (casseroles and meatloaf - I, the vegetarian, can and do make a wicked meatloaf. It is 2lbs of beefy goodness, apparently), but neither of the Husbands or my Housemate/Co-Wife To Be seem to mind.

What does this have to do with witchcraft, you ask? Well, the kitchen seems to be turning into my Hearth. I got marching orders from Them about getting the house in order by Samhain, and the kitchen has been the focus of most of my efforts. I am now rather possessive of the countertops, somewhat retentive about dirty dishes actually going into the dishwasher and not just into the sink, and now consider sweeping inadequate for floor maintenance (think Shop-Vac).

Maybe it's all the cooking I've been doing recently. Maybe it's that the kitchen is where everyone's preferences and needs have to be taken into account and balanced on a daily basis. Maybe it's that cooking is still a little like alchemy for me (look, turning meat into food is turning lead into gold for an aesthetic vegetarian). But there is definitely something going on down there, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go soak some beans.

*I did, however, manage to produce baked goods like a fiend, including a Venus of Willendorf Cookie for  Cakes and Ale. Go figure.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Money and/or Clergy.

How do you know when you're being legitimately charged money in the magical world?

Some traditions forbid charging for rituals, workings, training, or initiations. Some expect payment for any or all of the above.

Having a general knowledge of the religion/system is probably a good first line of defense. Payment is usually expected for hoodoo workings, from what I understand (which is admittedly little). A psychic, card reader, or palm reader is someone who, regardless of their belief system, will almost always expect to be paid. Voudoun and Santeria require the initiate-to-be to pay for their initiations.

Why is this? I think there are two reasons. The Dropout Dilettante has some good ideas; see her recent post, Etiquette Lesson: Magic Is Not For Free (Sometimes). She likens paying for magical services like spellwork to being no different than paying doctors, lawyers, or other service providers, and I generally agree with her.

Where I disagree is when she compares asking your friends who do magic to do so for free to bitching at your friend instead of seeing a shrink. Magic-using people tend to know one another, and I can't imagine friends not reading the cards or runes for me any more than I can imagine not whipping up a charm bag for them. Hell, I've done handfastings for free because the people involved were friends-who-are-family (and these were not "read-from-a-prewritten ceremony" handfastings, folks - these were customized within an inch of their lives). On the other hand, these people came to my house and checked some dodgy wiring, taught me to cook some vegan specialties, and did other things for me and mine. Maybe the difference is that I do these things for free for people with whom I have a give-and-take relationship in the first place.

I don't charge for my training circles; my tradition forbids me to do so. Even if it didn't, I'd still do it for free because I'm not professional clergy, and that's where the big difference lies for me. Traditions that charge for spellwork or initiations tend to be those where the clergy are professionals - this is what they do, 24/7, 365. If they didn't charge money, they wouldn't eat or have a home. Their communities are supporting them in the same way a Catholic priest or Unitarian minister is supported so that they can do the type of work that a clergyperson of this sort is expected to do.

Now, I did say "tend to" up there, and I know some of you are thinking, "Well, what about people who do spellwork for others, but still have a day job/trust fund/etc?" I'd take those on a case-by-case basis. Is someone charging an exorbitant fee? Do they have a sliding scale? Do their patrons need to come back frequently, spending even more money each time? Do other practitioners in the area seem to charge similar fees for similar services? Is this usual in their tradition, and do they even have one?

In magic, I think we should approach the question of money from the viewpoint of "buyer be aware."