Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some Interesting Search Cues

First, welcome to the several people apparently coming here from the House of Netjer forums and reading my post on why I left Kemetic Orthodoxy.  I don't really log in there and thus don't know what you're saying, but I can only imagine it's fascinating.

Anyway, I just fucking love search terms.  Sometimes the ones I get are just amazing.  Most of them lately have been about the word "Warlock" and about Kemetic religion.

Wep Ronpet 2013
That was yesterday!  OK, most people actually calculate the date from somewhere in the United States so most observant Kemetcs will be like "whaaat, no!" but if you calculate it from where I do in Egypt, it was yesterday.  You missed it.  Sorry.

Childfree Forums
Oh Gods, don't do it!  It's all people posting the stupid shit their parented friends post on Facebook and griping about paying taxes for schools because like that's not important right?  OK, that's not entirely true, but it pretty much is for the only childfree forum I ever went to, which was /r/childfree.  I don't go there. Don't try to find me.

Alternatives to HRC
I don't know if you were looking for the Human Rights Campaign or something else, but I'll talk about the HRC as I know it.  Unfortunately most of the big LGBT/Queer/SAGD groups aren't that much better than the HRC.  I mean, they're a little better, but not by a whole lot.  If you're looking for somewhere to donate money, I would personally suggest finding a small local group--or an economically disadvantaged group that serves a lot of people--and donate to that instead.

Empaths + Dogs
Took me a while before I understood this was about my touch starvation essay and how dogs are master energy workers.

Demisexuality Appropriating
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I really am bothered when somebody identifies as a heteroromantic demisexual and also decides this makes them a full-on oppressed queer.  This is claiming to be oppressed because you are a straight person who only desires sex with people you are in love with.  No, really.  There's literally nothing queer or oppressed about that.  Truth be told, though, I haven't actually seen this a lot, and demisexuality when you get rid of the -romantic suffixes isn't necessarily appropriative at all.

Does a Warlock practice Satanism?
I'm not sure about the numbers here, but Satanic male Witches are significantly more likely to reclaim "Warlock" than non-Satanic male Witches due to misconceptions spread by Wiccans and other Pagans that "Warlock" is inherently an anti-Witch slur rather than just another word for male Witch.  Not all Warlocks are Satanists, though.

Kemetic Shemsu Names
I am somewhat curious as to what this person was actually looking for.  The thing is, a lot of non-Kemetic Orthodox Kemetics try to find ways to gain a Shemsu name without going through Kemetic Orthodox Shemsuhood.  If you want a unique Shemsu name like the Kemetic Orthodox have you need to be Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu.  If you just want an ancient-Egyptian name, the easiest way you can do that without learning the language is to look at the names we already know--often from Pharaohs--and switch out the God names or just take them on ourselves. This does take some thought and research, mind you, because if you have no knowledge of the language you could easily be taking a cross-gendered name or cutting something important out.  There are some places that take modern Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu names and cut the deities out for people to fit their own Gods in there.  Please don't do this.  There is a lot more to a KO Shemsu name than just a cool-looking name, and you're stripping a lot of that out.  (Also, if you were to look at mine without knowing anything about it, and think "I'll just switch out this God's name for my own God's name!" you're going to wind up with incomprehensible garbage).

How to Join Kemetic Religion
This depends  on which Kemetic religion.  If you want to join Kemetic Orthodoxy or another established organization, then you need to go look into their policies.  Otherwise, just research and reconstruct!  You can join the Kemetic Interfaith Network for instance and learn more from them, I actually started by going to the ancient Egyptian section of my university library and just reading.

Meaning of "Warlock" in Paganism
People define this differently depending on where they learned about it among other things.  Warlock is increasingly being reclaimed as a word of power among male Witches, especially left-hand-path and queer male Witches.  There is still a negative connotation elsewhere, though, where people believe (without real evidence) that it's a word used to describe a coven traitor during the so-called Burning Times.  The reality is that "warlock" both in antiquity and today pretty much means "male witch."  Its etymology--"oathbreaker"--almost certainly referred to Christian oaths and not coven oaths (remember that this word was written down by Christians and not Pagans--there weren't many if any actual Pagan covens during that time period--and they wouldn't have given two shits if a person broke a coven oath).

Genderqueer Warlock
Sure, why not?

Do a lot of yoga people Kemetic Orth...
This showed up on Blogger's stats but not on my comprehensive stats so I don't know how it's finished or really how to respond. 

Tamara Siuda Heart
.........what?  I don't even... wait, OK, maybe this is in response to the organ donation thing?  I recall once she said not to donate your heart.  I disagree.  Meh.

Sex With White People White Supremacy
Again, what?  Are you looking for Nazi porn or something?  I guess sex with white people isn't inherently white supremacy but... uh... I don't know why you're here, go away.

Warlocks White Supremacist
Some probably are.  I mean, after all, there are white supremacists in pretty much every community. 

Therianthropy is a Mental Illness
If they're not hurting anybody, then no, not really.

Warlock Altar Tools
We use the same tools any other Witch would use.

What is a Life List with birding?
A life list is a master list of every bird you have seen and correctly identified.  For example, this is mine. 

What is Sookie Stackhouse putting on Warlock food?
I'm not really up to date on my True Blood.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Being Ridiculed vs. Oppression

This is with regard to a conversation that was brought up relatively recently among friends at PSG... we were talking about furry fandom and whether or not furries could be considered an underprivileged or oppressed group.  The point was made by a non-furry that furries are pretty widely ridiculed and made the butt of jokes.

This is actually a conversation that has happened on more than one occasion within the fandom.  In my own experience, the consensus is usually that no, we aren't an oppressed group.  The idea that furries as a whole think that we are an oppressed category is really based on the  opinions of a minority of furries.  And I personally concur totally; I don't believe that furries--or any fandom--qualify as "oppressed."

The thing is, "oppression" and "meanness" are two different things.  Somebody can be perfectly nice while oppressing people (and in fact this phenomenon is one reason so many people don't believe oppression exists), and somebody might be mean without being an agent of oppression.  Oppression requires power-over, which gets sketchy when you're talking about fandoms or things that are merely quirky, uncommon, or unpopular.

So the question becomes this: Are non-furries exercising unjust power over furries on a grand scale?  And as far as I'm concerned the answer is largely "no."  The average furry is simply somebody who enjoys entertainment with anthropomorphic animals... most of us don't fursuit, and the majority of people who do wear furry-related gear are limited to things like ears and tails or interesting hats.

The reason for this is that fursuiting is expensive.  A cheap fursuit is regularly over a few hundred dollars.  It takes financial privilege--or such determination that you're willing to cut a hell of a lot of corners--to fursuit.  So fursuiters wind up being an overall privileged community.  And even fursuiters rarely wear fursuits as a lifestyle.  So in general, furries are being ridiculed but not oppressed.

And yeah, the ridicule sucks.  I've been there.  I felt nauseous when at a kinkwear event and having not only the audience but the announcer snark about a couple of furries who entered the contest, without considering that any LGBT event is going to have furries.  It's intolerant and shitty.  Advocating for the end of shit like that is something I'm totally cool with.  But "shitty" and "obnoxious" are not the same thing as systematic oppression.

Most importantly, although I've said this many times before, it's important to recognize that furries are a fandom.  There are people within the furry community who are also therians, which are--pardon the pun--a whole different animal, but in general saying that furries are oppressed is like saying Trekkies or Whovians are oppressed.  Now, both of these groups of people are ridiculed (and there are actually people in a documentary about Star Trek fans who had their faces obscured because they write slash fanfiction), but the groups themselves are not oppressed.

Poultry, Purple Potatoes, and the Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market season is pretty much in full swing, and there are two I am now able to get to regularly.  The first was a little one where I got all that maple syrup to make maple butter and maple sugar out of.  The second is a rather large one in downtown West Bend, which is where I went yesterday.

I had to spend practically all my paycheck on bills, so I didn't have as much money as I wanted to work with.  On the bright side I did get radish pods (these are the seed pods of radishes, they taste like radish but less hot), purple potatoes, a gigantic kohlrabi, and organic beef and chicken.  I cooked these very simply... just lift the skin on the chicken, put garlic, salt, and pepper over it, put the skin back, and bake at 425°F (~220°C) for forty-five minutes (For bigger pieces of chicken it'll have to be longer, check to make sure it's cooked before you eat it.  Also keep in mind I use a convection oven so, again, just make sure.).  I stuck the potatoes in the microwave, to be honest.

I legitimately didn't expect them to be that purple.
 I also cooked a duck recently. I stuffed it with grapes, onions, and garlic cloves and then tied the legs together to close.  Then I mixed about a cup each maple syrup, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar, simmering it in a saucepan for around ten minutes.  I put the duck breast-side up on a grill pan and cooked it at 375°F (190°C) for an hour and a half, basting with the liquids from the saucepan every ten minutes or so.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

If you start off what you're saying with "I know trans people don't like to hear it, but..."

* I use mostly trans male centered language in this because we are the target of the conversations I've had.  The base advice applies to not only trans women and nonbinary folk, but pretty much everybody in an oppressed party you are not a part of.

So a friend posted this article about menstrual blood that in one portion makes the case that the way we talk about menstruation is too gender-essentialist and assumes that all women menstruate and only women menstruate, which isn't true in either regard.  A friend of hers (who I don't know) took issue with the language, saying such things as "I am unaware of non-women who menstruate. - Regardless of what you choose to call yourself, if you menstruate, you are a woman)" and, when my friend mentioned trans men, explained that she already knew about this issue, saying "I'm sorry if that pisses off transgender people, but this isn't a philosophical or political argument."

This actually did piss me off to the point of shaking, but not necessarily because of this person.  Based on the entirety of what she wrote, I am forced to assume that she's quite frankly kind of an open transphobe, and I don't concern myself much with them outside of a legal context.  The issue is that this sort of dipshitted behavior isn't limited to people who are proud of not giving a fuck about trans people.

See, several months ago I wound up blocking somebody on a social network because although he and I got along very well on a personal level and was actively in relationships with us, he had a habit of posting similar dipshittery, only this time from the perspective of a cis guy who is romantically inclined toward trans people.  Now, enjoying relationships with trans people is kind of a controversial topic to begin with, but that's not really the problem for me... the issue was that time and time again he would post insensitive bullshit--notably proclaiming that cis men and trans men are not only different due to socialization or other factors, but are different genders altogether--prefacing it with the phrase "I know trans people don't like to hear it, but..."

Alright, cis people.  We need to have a fucking talk.

If you have any shred of desire to even pretend to look like an ally, or somebody who works in solidarity with trans people, or somebody who wants romantic relationships with us, here's a quick tip:  If you are planning on saying something that begins with something like...

"I know that trans people don't like to hear it, but..."
"I'm sorry if that pisses off transgender people, but..."
"I know this is probably cis bias, but..."

Stop.  Stop right fucking there.

Stop right there and ask yourself something.  Ask yourself "Why do I really feel the need to put my voice into this conversation?  Why like this?"

Because here's the deal.  Saying something like this out of ignorance might annoy me, but I'm also inundated with it so I'm slightly used to it by now.  People believing that I am a distinct gender from cis men rather than a particular way of expressing it (just as black manhood and white manhood might be interpreted different, or Christian manhood and Pagan manhood, etc.), people believing that only women or all women menstruate/have the potential to require abortion care/get breast cancer/etc., these are things that are ignorant but so common that I don't automatically blame cis people for not understanding them.

But when you say these things and have the nerve to preface or punctuate it with a statement like that, it proves that you know that trans people find it offensive (and you probably even know why we find it offensive) and yet you choose to say it anyway.  Is it not self-evident why this is ridiculously problematic?  Not to mention horribly rude?

And that's the real issue here.  Cis people, when you do stuff like this, with the full understanding that what you are saying is a cis-biased statement that trans people generally do not get behind, you are being a shitty ally.  Because not only is it not our job to educate you (don't be thick, it's 2013, Google exists), it is not your job to educate us.  We already know us.  We have the lived experience to speak about things like this... and you don't.

Friday, July 12, 2013

First Came Maple Butter... Now Maple Sugar

This is about half of it.  I wound up with twice what I expected and the rest is in a bag, but these jars were just too classy not to have in my possession.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wep Ronpet Approaching and Maple Butter Part II

One of the primary components of my religion is Kemetic faith.  Although I don't talk about it very much, I still have a very firm grounding in ancient Egyptian mythology, cosmology, and practice.  I conceptualize ethics in terms of ma'at, I still tend to view the human soul as multiple entities (ka, ba, true name, heart, shadow, Akh, sekhem, and so on), and although I do not actually limit myself, I have a hard time relating to non-Egyptian deities on a deep level.

I also honor a number of its holidays.  Until recently I had been using the calendar put out by Kemetic Orthodoxy.  This was a bit problematic for me because as I no longer accept Tamara Siuda as the nisut I did not want a calendar based on Joliet, Illinois (ancient Egyptian holy days are calculated based on when the star Sopdet/Sirius is visible just before sunset from the Palace of the King/Nisut, also known as Wep Ronpet).  The Kemetic Orthodox observe Wep Ronpet as occurring in August.  I decided to calculate it based on the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, which this year puts it at July 27th.

The five days before this are the intercalary days, which are in Kemetic mythology not technically considered days of the year.  These were in legend created by Djehuty/Thoth, creating a loophole in which Nut and Geb were able to give birth to children (as they had been forbidden to give birth on any day of the year).  July 22nd is Wesir/Osiris's birthday, the 23rd is Heru-Wer/Horus the Elder's birthday, the 24th is Set's birthday, the 25th is Aset/Isis's birthday, and the 26th is Nebt-het/Nepthys's birthday.

I'll be making preparations for this in the next couple weeks, including some execration/banishing rituals and things like that.

For now, though, maple butter.  I made this again today because my last stuff accidentally turned into maple candy instead.  I was able to salvage it into kind-of maple butter, but I wanted a pretty jar of it, so I did:
Looks kind of like peanut butter, actually.  Definitely doesn't taste like peanut butter.  Tastes mostly of maple awesomeness, because that's what it is.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maple Butter, Mulberries, and More

I was oddly productive today.  It's great.

Today was the first day of the farmer's and crafter's market ten minutes away, so I excitedly showed up.  I've never been to this market before so I didn't really know what to expect.  Perhaps because it's relatively early there weren't that many stands... one had a flintknapper, which was cool, there were a few jewelry stands.  Only one stand sold vegetables, right next to a stand selling local beef (I didn't have nearly the money for that sort of thing, but I'll be all over that in a couple weeks).  I did wind up buying a quart of maple syrup from a guy selling syrup and honey.  I explained that I don't use white sugar in my house and he gave me a pamphlet explaining how to replace white sugar with maple syrup in practically everything.
Also, I got the most charming local eggs recently.  They weren't from this particular market, but they were hilariously mismatched, including three different colors and a huge variety of sizes:

I have a mulberry tree that's nestled right up against my house, and as it's fruiting right now I decided to collect and wash some berries.  Using a tarp and a broom I got enough to fill one of my bowls before washing them in a vinegar solution and sorting out all the crap.
I also set to being remarkably productive today, which I mentioned earlier.  I got off my ass and put seed in my bird feeders, leading to an immediate influx of birds.  They'd been coming to my birdbath reasonably often, but not nearly as much as when there are a bunch of full feeders for them.  I have been working more to get my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen cleaned; these rooms go into serious disarray when I'm depressed or going through a food binge as I have been.  I've been in a good mood lately so that's slowly changing.

I also made maple butter.  Kind of.  It was my first attempt and I wasn't sure exactly how it was supposed to look, so it's like a mix between maple butter and maple candy.  Luckily I really enjoy maple candy.  My favorite part about maple candy?  Unlike white sugar candy I can stop after one piece.  Not because it's inherently better for you (sugar is generally sugar), but because it's so rich.

I packaged up some chicken and allium soup in my new bento box to go to work with me tomorrow.  In the compartments I put cherries, peaches, and maple butter/candy.  I also made a pork roast with salt, maple sugar, rosemary, and mulberries... yes, mulberries.  I've made pork dishes with blueberries before and they're fantastic, so I figured mulberries wouldn't be a stretch.  And yes, it turned out pretty good.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Some Food Projects

I've been going through a pretty hardcore (bad) food binge for the past month.  Yes, month.  I took the fourth of July weekend as an opportunity to get things more straightened out, including purging trigger foods from my kitchen and coming up with plans for what to eat at work (I've been eating from the cafeteria using a paycheck deduction... although it's cheap, it's also Sodexo. Yuck.).

One thing I did was I made a massive pot of magick allium soup:
This is a soup I made from homemade bone-marrow-garlic broth and every allium I found at the supermarket that day (red onions, vidalia onions, white onions, shallots, scallions, garlic, and elephant garlic).  I was upset that my yard isn't growing chives yet, if it will at all.

It was easy.  Just make the broth (which is also easy, just cook beef femur bones, onions, and lots of garlic until it's tasty and strain it), chop up lots of alliums, add them, cook them until they're tasty.  I added some more beef femur bones.  Bone marrow is excellent for you.

I was a little hesitant because preparing onions certain ways makes my face itch like crazy.  But boiled instead of fried there seems to be no issue.  I will be freezing portions of this to go to work with me, adding whatever meat I feel like adding that day, if at all.  The nice thing about this soup is that it's wonderful at reducing cravings and it tastes good.

I also went perusing my no-effort-orchard.  I call it that because we planted fruit trees as a gift to my mom when she still lived here (in addition to already present fruit trees) and since I'm the only one here now we just kind of... let them.  I get the feeling I'm going to need to prune back my mulberry tree, though, it's getting ridiculous.  I do occasionally pick the fruit, although without maintenance usually they're more enjoyed by the birds and the bees than by people.

Apples, mulberries, crabapples, cherries, and a pear.
I've been trying to wildcraft more, but with a regular 9-to-5 mildly stressful job it's difficult for me to find the effort.  Part of it is the binge eating... the more I do that the less likely I am to exercise, which brings my overall mood down.  I have been working on eating better and exercising whenever I can bring myself to do so, which is getting better and better each day.

Every Pagan Book I Own: Part I

This is something I tried to do on a different blog that fell through after a while (I'm terrible at one-subject blogs).  I have lots of books in the Pagan/Wicca/Witchcraft/NewAge/Magick categories.  They all have their pros and their cons, so for anybody who is interested in whether or not I feel these books are worth reading, well, here you go.

There are a couple books in each post, with each book given certain categories:
Pros are my favorite things about the book.
Cons are general things I tend not to like.
History Level is how good or bad the history is.
Appropriation Level is how much cultural appropriation is in the book (low, medium, high) as well as what kind of appropriation it contains and whether I feel it's appropriate or not (it's practically impossible to be a Neopagan and not appropriate something).
Relativism Level is whether or not the author says weird things about what Pagans supposedly do and do not do.  This is only really relevant to generic Pagan books; books specifically about Wicca or a particular tradition I generally consider to be talking from their own experiences.

The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess by Starhawk
It used to be that I heard about this book everywhere, although these days it's not quite as likely to be recommended.  If you buy this book, make sure you get the 20th anniversary edition.  This provides useful footnotes and information which puts the things Starhawk wrote in the original 1979 edition in its appropriate context.  This book is written from the perspective of the Reclaiming Tradition but is useful for others, too.
This is an excellent book for learning Pagan fundamentals.  Grounding, centering, circle casting, consecrating tools, and other basics are explained here better than any other book I've owned.  I still use what I've learned in this book on a regular basis, and I've owned it for almost a decade.  Reclaiming uses a lot of trance and visualization, so if you need help with these you should read it.  This is also pretty well-known as a book you should read if you plan on creating a coven (although Starhawk has other books that would likely be better for this purpose).
Although I wouldn't consider this a "con," I will mention that this book will be frustrating to more right-wing-leaning Pagans, Pagans who are dead set on strict gender binarism in their practice, and people who spend their days moaning about "fluffy" Witches.  The history is bad, too, but I have a category for that anyway.
History Level
Bad.  Really.  Keep in mind that back in the late seventies Witches pretty much believed all the garish history we'd been promoting for ourselves and so believing the European Witch Trials was a massive conspiracy against real Witches was not at all uncommon.  The original text of the book claims "nine million" Witches were executed among other suspect things.  One could consider these a sort of "origins myth," but it's not good history.
Appropriation Level
If you don't count the history section, it's relatively low.  The history section is pretty much "cave painters were US!" "burned Witches in Europe were US!" and so on.  Aside from some noncontextual use of God and Goddess names, it's fine.
Relativism Level
This book is based in a specific tradition, but I still don't recall anything terrible in this regard.

The Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca, and Living a Magical Life by Michael Thomas Ford
This is one of my favorite books.  The reason is that I'm so used to seeing people write on queer people in Witchcraft only to jump through hoops to explain why heterosexist imagery totally still applies to us... even when written by gay Witches... and this book deters from that sharply.  It has eight chapters, each with a topic of discussion and a queered-up story about a Sabbat.
This book is excellent if you are interested in queer male mysteries and do not desire a heterosexist framework for Witchcraft.  Although there are still elements of this in the book, there is also a seriously awesome resource:  Each chapter has a Sabbat story detailing the Wheel of the Year from the perspective of a gay male figure called "The Green Man" in the book.  When I write Sabbat rituals I always reference this book.  There are also a lot of fantastic activities that can be done alone or in groups.

Claims the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft is one of aesthetics and political correctness (in today's vernacular it isn't).  Makes the same frustrating claim that male Witches are never called Warlocks (plenty of Pagan men are beginning to reclaim this and in the past three or four years I've only rarely had somebody self-righteously proclaim that I'm wrong for claiming it).  I don't like his definition of "Paganism."
Appropriation Level
The creation of new stories in this book might be considered sketchy.  There are Gods and Goddesses from living traditions referenced out of context.  If one considers the use of the term "Wicca" while making the clear assumption that it is synonymous with "Witchcraft," I'd give this book a medium.
History Level
Not terrible.  Makes the connection between the European Witch Trials and modern Witches as a metaphor regarding the word "Witch" rather than the assumption that we are one and the same.