Sunday, October 14, 2018

Episode 123: Inciting Mickie Mueller's Riot

Episode 123 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast is a discussion with author, illustrator, and Pagan artisan Mickie Mueller. We celebrate the release of her latest book, Llewellyn's Little Book of Halloween, and talk about how to make your Samhain extra witchy. 


Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast

Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Episode 122: Inciting A Problematic Pagan Riot



Episode 122 of Inciting a Riot: the Podcast finds us discussing some of the recent expressions of problematic behavior in the Pagan community. Also, there are two interviews from Chicago's Pagan Pride. 

A trigger warning: the latter part of the show has a discussion of sexual misconduct inside the community. While it is by no means graphic, the topic is discussed. 

Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com

FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com

@IncitingARiot on Twitter

Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast

Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, October 1, 2018

In Support of Sarah Lawless

Over the weekend Sarah Lawless came forward with what can be described as a bombshell blog post in which she recounts her personal #MeToo history inside the Pagan community. It is harrowing, frank, and brave. In the blog she chose to withhold the names of those she accused for fear of her family’s safety and retribution from the community at large. In a follow up post to her multiple social media accounts, however, she has named names. 

Those of us that have been in and around Pagan podcasting for the last decade had already pieced together what she later confirmed: Mojo, cohost of the Wigglian Way Pagan Podcast, is the one she refers to as “the rapist” in her blog. 

I was shocked, hurt, angry, and sad when this news first came out. I became a Pagan podcaster in no small part due to the inspiration of Mojo and Sparrow. Even as of my last episode of Inciting A Brewhaha I cited them as an influence and a powerful force in our community. It does not give me joy to report this news. At times over my near-decade of Pagan podcasting, I have called the cohosts of the Wigglian Way teachers, mentors, peers, and friends. 

There’s a phrase that came out in the midst of the AIDs crisis from ACT UP in the late 1980s: Silence = Death. It is a message to everyone that if we don’t talk about problems, if those with a voice and platform remain silent, then it only leads to more pain and hurt and an ever-increasing body count of victims. I believe firmly that it is my responsibility to publicly come out in support of victims everywhere speaking their truth, and to let them know they will be validated, believed, and their abusers will be held accountable. 

Sarah, I cannot offer you justice, but I can offer you solidarity. Let there be no uncertainty. I condemn the actions of your abusers and others like them in our community and beyond. I believe you, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because - it should be reminded -  victims are statistically telling the truth by an overwhelming margin.

To everyone else in the Pagan community, there are a number of problems that our small but mighty community has let go for far too long. In the last couple of years I am relieved to see that we are finally addressing them. As Pagans we tend to believe that the problems of society at large do not exist for us, that by dint of simply not being Christians we have eschewed the problems of the macro culture. But whether it’s racism in Nordic reconstructionism, or transphobia in “women only” circles, pedophilia and child porn, or sexual misconduct at festivals and beyond, our community needs to recognize that we are not a magical microcosm that are free of the ills of society because we believe in magic. 

I began this blog in January of 2009. For almost 10 years, Inciting A Riot has been known for being blunt, provocative, loud, and full of hubris. The one thing I have always strived for, however, is to speak out against dishonesty, injustice, and the marginalizing of those that society is not built to serve. I hope that other Pagan voices will show their support publicly for Sarah and others like her at this crucial time. We cannot afford to be silent. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Rise of #HimToo in the #MeToo era

There’s a new movement that’s gaining ground online that will soon be coming to your social media feed if it hasn’t already. It’s called #HimToo, and it’s a reactionary hashtag seeking to undercut the momentum of the #MeToo movement. If you were a fan of the #AllLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter hashtags, thought that “both sides” were to blame for Nazis marching in Charlottesville, or generally think that black people should stop complaining when white officers barge into their home without reason or cause and kill them out of... “drunken confusion”... this is probably your new favorite thing. 

Here’s one of the memes being shared across all social media platforms:



Supporters of the #HimToo movement are pushing back against the notion that women are to be believed when they come forward with allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct. They think...well...let me let them tell you in their own words:



In short, these people think that women who come forward are lying. En masse. The logic is, of course, that women are coming forward to ruin the lives of men. I believe Simcha Fisher said it best:



I want to address this notion that women are vindictive bitches that are simply seeking revenge because of grudges or perceived slights or whatever some troll has drummed up as just cause for invalidating their voice. (Seriously, search the hashtag. It’s nothing less than deplorable the kind of things this movement’s supporters are saying.) Numbers don’t lie. People do, but numbers don’t. Numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to determine how many allegations of sexual assault are false. You may have seen some numbers such as 2% or 10% floating around. Those don’t seem to be supported by modern studies. The number is somewhere in the middle. Somewhere between just over 4% and 5% of allegations of sexual assault - rape, specifically - are believed to be false

These studies have their own downfalls. One study in 2017 doesn’t include cases of disputed consent, where one person says yes and the other says no so the compromise was that the yes person got their way. Studies that find larger numbers tend to include things such as intoxication, delayed reporting, victim retracted their statement, or they could find no evidence of bodily harm. The most important number amongst these, however, is that of those cases where the allegation is false (remember, that number is something like 5% of the whole), only 3% of those cases were done for malicious reasons - ie they wanted to do harm to the person’s life by bringing forward a terrible allegation according to a long term study by the Ministry of Justice in the UK.

Some quick math for you. If we have 100 cases of sexual assault and 5 of them are not true, that means that 95 of them were. Also, of the 5 allegations that aren’t true, 0.15 of them were brought forward for malicious reasons. Less than 1% of allegations of sexual assault are brought forward for malicious reasons. Or, to translate it into internet troll lingo, 0.15 of all accusers are “lying bitches”. 




This says nothing, of course, for the fact that many of these crimes go unreported. It says nothing for the fact that 1 in 6 women are survivors of sexual assault. That the average age of victims starts at 12. That these statistics compound if you’re a trans woman, especially a trans woman of color. The numbers for sexual assault are enough to make you cringe. 

But not everything is sexual assault. Not all acts being brought to light in the #MeToo era are forced intercourse. Brett Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, isn’t alleging that she was raped. She was assaulted and held down, but not raped. Anita Hill did’t come forward to say that Clarence Thomas raped her. She brought to light the serious issue of workplace sexual harassment, an issue that 81% of women say they experience.

The #MeToo movement is about empowering victims - not just women - of harassment, abuse, and assault to come forward with the understanding that their allegations will, for the first time in modern memory, be given legitimate belief, empathy, and that their abuser will be brought to justice. This is true for all levels of income, renown, and political leaning. Sure, proponents of “men’s rights” or #HimToo may try and point to cases where false allegations were made. We must recognize that they exist. We must accept that as fact. But, there is at least a 95% chance that the person coming forward is pointing to the correct person and that the abuse or assault actually happened. And, if it’s not true, there is less than a 1% chance that the allegation was a malicious lie. Those are good odds for belief. 

Accusers have nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward. The Patriarchy doesn’t crumble over night. Cisgender, heterosexual, Christian, wealthy white men are still the ones that hold the wealth and power and given the benefit of the doubt in all cases. They are disproportionately responsible for the majority of crimes, but they disproportionately serve less jail or prison time for those crimes than their minority counterparts according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. 

And, as a cisgender, middle class, white man myself, may I say something to the #HimToo movement.

You say that “no man is safe.” I don’t want to feel safe. I don’t need to feel safe. I shouldn’t feel safe. Nobody is owed wealth or status or fame or a seat on the Supreme Court. Nobody should feel safe and secure that their crimes will go unanswered and that they are above the law by dint of being a man. Men should not be seeking safety, because women and minorities in this country and around the world by and large haven’t ever felt safe. If a person loses their job because they committed a crime, that is not the victim’s fault. Likewise, it is not the victim’s fault if they have a problem seeking employment in the future 

Growing up gay in the south meant that I was constantly terrified, and going back to visit as an adult leaves me on edge the entire time. After I was bashed, I stopped going out to gay clubs - and I rarely went out alone at night to unfamiliar locations - because my attackers were waiting outside to play capture the fag. Nobody seeks to be victimized, and victims are rarely believed and even less often see justice. 

The #HimToo movement is cowardice. It is seeking to silence the over 99% of victims who come forward with good faith allegations of harassment, abuse, and assault. And, sadly, it’s growing online and is being echoed in press conferences as of yesterday by the President of the United States. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Monday, September 24, 2018

Bad Pagan Confession: I didn’t celebrate Mabon



You know how you have friends of circumstance? You worked together at that one shitty job, but being around each other made it all worthwhile. You had the same 3 classes one semester in Sophomore year of college.They lived in your apartment complex and did their laundry on the same day as you. And, for a while, you felt like you’d known them forever and that you were going to know them forever. Then the unthinkable happened. 

You got a less shitty job. You declared a major and took different classes. You moved. 

Thanks to social media we can now keep up with one another, but it’s never truly the same. You go from making time to meet up with one another, to telling each other on Facebook that you need to make time to meet up with one another, to feeling bad that you don’t make time for them, to texting Happy Birthday and liking each other’s Instagram posts, to no longer feeling bad that you don’t make time for them, to almost forgetting that they exist until TimeHop reminds you of those good good times you had 12 years ago. 

That’s how I feel with the sabbats. 

There are spokes on the Wheel of the Year that come and go and I simply have stopped feeling bad if I miss them. I want to feel bad. I want to go on a guilt trip that I didn’t at least make a modicum of effort. 

Sure I didn’t do a ritual per se, but I bought a nice loaf of bread from a baker and left some out for the spirits - one might say if they were me 5 years ago. 



When I was growing up in all the various closets I grew up in while gestating in the belly of my small east Texas town, I told myself that when I finally moved away I’d be all these things. I’d never miss a ritual. In fact, I’d have a room dedicated to my Pagan practice. I’d have special tools and grow a garden separate from my daily eating vegetable garden that I was definitely also going to grow. It would have mandrake and mugwort and white sage and some...nightshades...or something. I didn’t even really know what any of those looked like, but I knew I was going to have them.

Whatever god that listened to those dreams must have laughed and laughed and laughed, because, instead, I got a busy life and a slowly dying relationship with the sabbats aided by halfhearted posts on social media wishing everyone else who’s also skipping the holiday a VERY BLESSED ONE! 

On the flip side, I have the entire week off work for Samhain, and my circle is getting together for our annual festivities that includes a big ol’ sleepover at my ranch. I’ve been planning menus and decorations for a while, and I’ll spend most of October prepping for it. I have a Yule log and always enjoy the extra witchy not-quite-Christmas gathering with my friends. I still paint my eggs with wishes and bury them at Ostara. So I tend to forgive myself for the holidays that I simply do not remotely care if I miss. 

I was listening to the latest episode of New World Witchery where Cory interviewed Paige of The Fat Feminist Witch (great episode...go download). In it they talk about the resurgence of the witchy aesthetic on places like Instagram and Tumblr. People glom on to accounts that make it look as though the person is living in a slightly sideways reality from the rest of us, off in a mystical cabin in the mountains surrounded by bones and spirits and writing in a grimoire that would make any Owens woman quake with jealousy. Those accounts are pretty, and they provide some nice wallpaper for my phone from time to time, but they aren’t real. Just like a good gym selfie, the witchy aesthetic posts are carefully staged and edited and photoshopped in order to achieve that otherworldly feel. 

They’re not real. Real is busy. Real is obligated. Real is rushed. Real is complicated. Real is running so many errands on your one day off in weeks that you get to 8pm in the evening and flop on the couch ready to watch Will & Grace reruns and eat some garbage food out of a bag and pick up your phone to scroll through social media and then think “well shit...it’s Mabon.” 

Ok...I did make one thing. This was a banana nut bundt cake I made just because.

If you, like me, also missed Mabon and have zero shame...come sit by me. We’ll half heartedly text each other “BLESSED SABBAT” and then clink spoons and share a pint of ice cream. It’s one of those new kinds with all the same and guilt trips removed. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Monday, September 10, 2018

#WitchKitChallenge



Recently, witch kits have seen a revival (err.. revile?...pardon the pun) in and out of the Pagan community. In a recent blog, and through many discussions with you all on social media, I’ve heard that many of you don’t necessarily mind the idea of an all in one kit. But not every kit has what you want, and even if it has all the “stuff” it might not look like something you’d want to prominently display. And, even if all that is true, it still might not be something you can afford or access. Thus, I am giving birth to a new project I like to call the...

#WitchKitChallenge

The goal of the challenge is to take a budget that more or less most people can afford - if not all at once, realistically over a short period of time - and shop only at stores that most people can access to see if you can build a solid “kit” of everything the starter Pagan might want/need to get their witching off right. 

The rules

  • Budget - no more than $50 pre-tax
  • Must get everything on the list, or have a reasonable substitution that makes sense for your practice (but you cannot get fewer items...no saying 1 item does 3 things)
  • You can only shop at 1 of the approved chain stores, or a similar chain establishment that most people have access to (you cannot go to, say, 3 different chain stores to get everything)
  • You don’t have to purchase everything, but you need to record the pre-tax prices for all items and take a picture or video of your “kit”. 
  • No seasonal items! For this challenge, you must resist the urge to go spelunking in the Halloween decor. 
  • Post it to social media using the hashtag #WitchKitChallenge
  • Challenge 3 people to do the same

The List

  • 4 Elemental Representations
  • 1+ Representations of Spirit/Deity
  • 1 Knife or Carving Implement
  • 1 Offering Dish
  • 1 Blank Book
  • Something to do (this piece is open ended to allow for variety... You could choose a divinatory tool such as a scrying mirror, some dice, a deck of cards. The choice is yours, but it should be something you can do magically at your witchy workspace.)
  • Bonus Points if you can also squeeze in a place to put your kit - a shelf or cabinet or something - but it’s by no means required (and would be quite difficult at most of the stores on the list, but you get bragging rights if you can fit it in)

The Stores

Remember, each “kit” can only be comprised of items from one of these stores. No combining items from different stores.
  • WalMart
  • Target
  • Goodwill
  • Dollar Tree
  • Dollar General
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s 
  • HomeGoods
  • Ross
  • Michael’s
  • TJ Maxx

My First Challenge



For my first challenge, I went to Target. Because...of course I did. I saw my first $20 eaten up pretty quickly with a beautiful metal charger and a complimentary blank book. But, like...they were really pretty and I became convinced my kit would simply be incomplete without both of them. 

My items were:
  • Blue drinking glass for Water - $3.99
  • Metal charger/offering plate - $9.99
  • Playing cards for divination - $2.99
  • 2 taper candlesticks - $1.99/ea
  • Paring knife - $3.99
  • 2 Taper candles (black) for spirit - $3.99
  • Blank book - $9.99
  • Salt for earth - $2.09
  • Dish for salt - $1.99
  • Bubble wand for air - $.98
  • White candle for fire - $4.19
  • Total pre-tax cost of my kit - $48.17
(Oops! Here’s the candle...)


I wanted a few “nicer” things like Himalayan pink salt, but that was $6, and have I mentioned how much I wanted that charger in my kit instead? I had also originally selected a much nicer knife, but that was $7.99...and I was already at the limit. 

Some limitations were trying to find a suitable representation of air. I also wanted an actual living plant as my earth element, but this Target didn’t have anything like a succulent or air plant or something beyond the fake, plastic potted decor. I fully realize that if I’d chosen a cheaper book I’d have had room for nicer things, possibly even a shelf, but I found something I liked...and that’s kind of the point of the challenge. To surprise yourself. 

I plan on repeating the challenge at some of the other stores in the coming weeks. It’ll be interesting 

The Gauntlet

I challenge Velma Nightshade, Cory Hutcheson, and Chris Orapello! 

And, of course, if anyone else wants to play along, feel free to post your photos using the hashtag #WitchKitChallenge! I’ll be reposting all of the ones I can see. (So make your posts public! Or, better yet, tag me!)

tl;dr 

Here’s a video:



Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sephora’s Witch Kit and Pagan Gatekeeping

I remember when my Paganism took the form of a single, small shelf facing the back wall on the floor of Waldenbooks in the mall and a deck of playing cards. I remember when my Paganism looked like hearing Piper on Charmed use the word “sabbat” instead of “holiday”. I remember when my Paganism was falling in love with Hogwarts and Narnia and Greek mythology. I remember when my Paganism was a generic, playing card size deck of tarot cards I bought from a store that mostly rented movies and sold used CDs, and a  book by a guy named Scott Cunningham borrowed from the girl I sat next to in band. And, for some kid in 2018, their Paganism might just begin at Sephora.

If you’re a Witch or a Pagan or any other such magical person, and you have access to social media, you will have undoubtedly seen the absolute tizzy our online community has worked itself into over this:


What’s in the box?


It’s called “Starter Witch Kit”, and it’s made by a fragrance company called Pinrose and will be sold at makeup giant Sephora in the coming days. It retails for $42. It has 9 different fragrances, a tarot deck, a bundle of white sage, and a tumbled rose quartz. As “witch kits” go, it’s not the worst I’ve seen. It’s a little less “Wicca Flavored Witchcraft” and more “I Like to Look at Pictures of Burning Man on Instagram”. The character...let’s assume she’s the High Priestess?...on the Tarot deck appears to be a big fan of Prince (we all caught that that is definitely his unpronounceable symbol, right?). It’s pastel, which is apparently enough for Pagans around the interwebs to write it off as puerile. 

But let’s look at it for what it is. From the blogs and podcasts I’ve listened to over the years, I’ve been led to believe that practically any tarot deck will work with the right training and intuition. I remember once that someone recommended cutting out labels for cleaning products and using them as oracle cards - Joy, Gain, and Tide all seem pretty evocative. So...the New Age festival goer on the deck doesn’t bother me. There are nine fragrances that correspond with desired effects. I am appearing at Chicago Pagan Pride this upcoming Sunday, and, unless this year is wildly different from every other year, I fully expect to see scents and oils that make the same claim from at least a dozen different booths. Go to Etsy and witches around the world sell balms and ointments and soaps and perfumes and oils and all sorts of other smell good stuff that all claim to have magical properties. The tumbled stone and white sage? I have those. You have those. We all have those. 

So what are we mad about? 

That it’s being sold at a makeup store? That it’s pink? That nobody asked you if you specifically wanted this? That it’s a cheap imitation of what “Real Witchraft” is? That last bit seems to be the consensus

OMGs It’s Fake & Plastic & a Kit


I’m also old enough to know that this isn’t the first witch kit. In fact, many - M A N Y - of the people decrying this kit from Sephora have a very soft spot for this:



This is (err...was) the Teen Witch Kit created by pagan author Silver Ravenwolf and sold by Llewellyn publishers. You can still buy one on Amazon for ... around $42. It has the following product description:


It had some plastic/pewter coin looking things - I’m still not really sure what those were - a teeny little bell that looked like it came from a cat collar, a polyester shoe string “cord”, and you can even use the cardboard box for an altar! Sure, the whole exterior wasn’t pastel, but the title was pink, and it prominently features the Wiccan Power Rangers:


AKA the super edgy Wiccan teens from the last time we tried to market witchcraft to teenagers. 

Seriously, search the term “witch kit” in almost any area of the internet where you can buy things. Here’s a quick selection from Etsy.

Witch kits are not new. It’s not new to sell them at big box retailers, especially during Halloween season. Similar items have been sold over the years at Barnes & Noble, Target, and more. Upscale retailers in the last year have been seen selling crystal kits and other New Age/magical paraphernalia. Stop acting like this is new. 

Basic White Girl Sage




I’ve seen arguments that the Sephora kit is promoting the over harvesting of white sage in order to satiate white girls’ desire to be rid of bad vibes while sipping pumpkin spice lattes and binging reruns of Gilmore Girls in between sets at Coachella. (Otherwise known on the Pagan interwebs as the “ugh...basic white girls” argument...by the same crowd that revere Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed as holy, sacrosanct, liturgical television viewing.) There is this argument running around Pagan internet circles that white sage - salvia apiana - is endangered. That we’ve overharvested it to the point of extinction. That Native Americans don’t have enough. If this is true, it is news to the governmental agencies that track things like whether plant species are “threatened” or “endangered”. It isn’t categorized as such by the USDA or by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. I’m not saying it isn’t happening, but I’m saying that I cannot find supporting evidence for its occurrence. 

However, there is a good argument that this highlights cultural appropriation of Native American spiritual practices. White sage has become a pretty integral part of most Pagans’ practice - mine included - while ignoring the history and culture behind its use. It is a good reminder that modern Pagans tend to select bits and pieces of other, older cultures and shove them together on the same altar. This can be both a beautiful example of the belief that many have that all the gods are merely different faces of the divine, and a shocking example of privilege. 

We should embrace opportunities to seek out other ways of performing spiritual cleansing. And, should we use a method found from a culture, especially a living culture, we should do more than lip service to honor the people who have kept the method alive and the culture from which the practice comes. It might also do us some good to ask, Should I really be using this? 

I’m a white guy. Using a spiritual remedy from Native American culture is an example of white privilege. I can claim that lots of other people do it. I can claim I mean no harm. I can claim that I use it alongside other methods of cleansing such as salt and blessed water and incense and certain woods and all sorts of other things. And...I suppose I do all those things. But, it doesn’t mean that I should get to absolve myself of at the bare minimum understanding where the practice of burning white sage came from and honoring its history. Or, perhaps better yet, find other methods that I can enjoy. The history of white people taking from indigenous people and making excuses for why they should get to is long, bloody, and real. 

All that said, the witch kit sold at Sephora is not the progenitor of this issue, nor should it be a whipping boy for this particular argument. The wider Pagan community, and the even wider...everyone else, are guilty of the same appropriation. Whole Foods has been selling white sage for years, and you’d practically have to actively avoid it at any shop selling wellness products. 

But this is OUR thing

This is the crux of the issue, isn’t it?

Pagans, witches, Wiccans, Reconstructionists of all types, and magical people here, there, and yonder absolutely despise the idea of this thing that we do becoming mainstream or welcoming in people that don’t fit with our collective idea of What Makes a Witch. This is gatekeeping at its finest. I have been sent the story about the Sephora Witch Kit a dozen times a day at least every single day since this story broke from people expecting me to be outraged about all the “blonde Becky’s” that will think they’re doing witchcraft.

I’m not outraged. I’m not upset. I’m not flummoxed. I’m not even miffed. I’m glad there’s magic being practiced out in the world, and I don’t really care very much if it looks like the magic that I practice. I’m quite positive that if you were to look at the altars and humdrum witchy practices of a host of different Pagans, you’d get a host of different ways of practicing magic and worshipping the gods of old. 

There are people I greatly respect that spend their time dissolving roadkill in various chemicals in order to harvest the bones for their ritual use. There are people I greatly respect that knit spells into gifts for their loved ones using wool they sourced and dyed themselves. There are people I greatly respect that keep a poisoners garden filled with herbs and plants whose usage has been carefully researched and honed with years of practice. There are people I greatly respect who work with ancestors and spirits and keep items from their beloved dead in a prominent place of importance in their home or on their person. 

There are people I greatly respect that never miss a full moon, that put out amazing spreads for every holy day, and have handwritten books of shadows that would make the grimoire from Practical Magic look like a bargain bin Halloween prop. 

There are also people I greatly respect whose Paganism looks like blessing their mint tea with healing energy before giving it to their child. There are also people I greatly respect whose Paganism looks like a small jar of tumbled stones and a drawer full of shirts they wear every October. There are also people I greatly respect whose witchcraft looks like less than half a dozen rituals throughout the year and cursing your iPhone as you scroll through Facebook and realize that you missed Mabon...again. There are also people I greatly respect whose spells look like dancing or scented candles or wearing specific colors or keeping a dream journal. 

Some of my very favorite books of spells came from Target. They weren’t exclusive to Target, but that’s where I found them. As a teenager. Who, coincidentally, worked for Target in the early 2000s when Charmed and Sabrina were our witches on TV. Fast forward to 2018 and Charmed and Sabrina are...still witches on TV. Along with a host of other witches. 

I’ll be honest, the hypocrisy of the Pagan community makes me laugh. A lot. Actual, real, genuine belly laughs. We are perfectly ok incorporating Disney magic into our practice as well as other pop culture figures and spells. We share memes that say that the best way of dealing with an unruly spirit is to tell it to Get the fuck out of the house, Arthur. We laugh. We nod in agreement. We hit share. We all have fond memories of discovering witchcraft for the first time in a bookstore or a tv show or a textbook or a friend and realizing...magic is real and I can do it?!

But we do not extend the same courtesy to the new, especially to the new that doesn’t look like the old. 

I’ll say it loud for the people in the back:

THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO BE A WITCH.

And the people feeling very superior about the fact that their witchcraft wasn’t bough at Sephora need a reality check. So what if it’s a fashion statement? Tess Whitehurst wrote a whole book about magical fashion statements. So what if a girl named “Becky” picks it up? Rebecca Nurse was a real life woman killed in Salem as a witch. Plenty of Becky’s and Rebecca’s and all other iterations of that name have been and continue to be witches. Who cares if they’re blonde? I’m blonde. Samantha on Bewitched was blonde. 

Buy Local


One last thing. There’s the argument that buying these witch kits is somehow taking away from business that could be going towards local pagan owned businesses. None of you folks that are complaining about that honestly think that the people that will pick up this witch kit are buying it in lieu of buying a kit from “real witches” at real Pagan shop, do you? Was your first contact with witchcraft at a Pagan shop? Or was it the New Age section of Barnes & Noble. Maybe next Halloween, the boys and girls who picked up this kit will be knocking down their local Pagan shop to dig a little deeper. Or maybe not. But come on... Be realistic. 

And buying an item from your local witchy shop doesn’t necessarily mean you’re contributing to some local, Pagan artisan’s tireless efforts to sell their handcrafted Pagan goodies. The majority of metaphysical shops sell statuary from Sacred Source, herbs from Azure Green, Books from Llewellyn and Weiser, and a very small number of other suppliers that deal in major international wholesaling of the spiritual. You could very likely buy what you need to buy online, which, for many, is a handy option as they don’t live near a witchy store...or at least one worth their blessing salt. 

Pagan Enough


I think it’s time to revive Project Pagan Enough. 

I think it’s time we declare who we are, what we believe, how we found our path, and, sure, where we get our witchy stuff from. 

I’ll start. 

I’m Fire Lyte. I’ve been on the path for over half my life. My altar came from Pier 1. My current Book of Shadows came from Lapulia studios. My previous Book of Shadows was a three ring binder I covered in fabric. My first was a little $5 journal I bought at my school’s book fair. My stones came from rock shows, the side of the road, witchy shops, a museum, and friends from around the world. I take inspiration from pop culture, mythology, traditional practices, podcasts, and blogs. Books on my witchy shelf are everything from Pagan owned and published instructionals to various encyclopedias on mythology to poetry to historical collections of folklore. I’m good to remember 8 holidays a year, because I might be lucky if I celebrate 3. My full moon rituals might, at best, be raising a glass of wine at the end of the day to the moon and taking half a second to thank the gods that I still breathe. I don’t for a second take myself or my practice too seriously. 

And, I’m Pagan enough. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Episode 121: Inciting The Lost Queen's Riot (with Signe Pike)



Signe Pike returns to Inciting A Riot to talk about her upcoming debut novel The Lost Queen, on sale September 4, 2018 from Touchstone Books. 

Signe discusses what she's been up to in the 8 years since publishing Faery Tale and how she brought the as-yet-untold story of a queen lost to time to life. If you enjoy being swept up in historical fantasies like Outlander or The Mists of Avalon, you'll want to run straight to your nearest bookstore to pick up The Lost Queen. 

Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, August 27, 2018

Episode 120: Inciting A Crystal Riot





Episode 120 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast sees the return of Pagan geophysicist and podcaster Kathleen Borealis of Borealis Meditation! 

We talk about the history of crystals in magical use, how to find crystals on a budget, and what two stones you must have in your witchy kit (believe me, you won't guess what they are). 

You can find Kathleen on her podcast Borealis Meditation, or by searching out @KatBorealis on Twitter!

Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!

Love and Lyte, 

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Episode 119: Inciting Morgan Daimler's Riot

Episode 119 of Inciting a Riot: the Podcast finds us Inciting Morgan Daimler's Riot! Morgan is an expert on Irish Myth and Fairy Folklore. We discuss how to start researching Irish Myth, what's up with the Fairy Queens, and whether I'm a terrible uncle for inviting the fae to live with my 3 year old niece. 
Quick Note: I must apologize for the audio quality in this episode. Apparently, Skype recently had an update and I didn't realize it mucked about with the audio settings. As such...well...you'll hear it. It's not great. But Morgan is delightful, and no amount of technical interference could dull her shine! (This is what I get for recording during all of the retrogrades.)
To contact Morgan:
Twitter - @MorganDaimler
Facebook.com/MorganDaimler
lairbhan.blogspot.com
Or search for her books on Amazon!
Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!
Love and Lyte,
Fire Lyte
Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, July 30, 2018

Episode 118: Inciting Autumn’s Riot


Episode 118 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast is discussion with blogger and (soon to be) podcaster Autumn Lily Harari. She currently lives in Israel not too far from the Palestinian border. With all that has gone on in that area in the last several months, I wanted to discuss what it's like to live and raise a family in an area that most of us only think about in terms of war and terrorism. 

Find more from Autumn at yourmothersblog.com.

Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!


Love and Lyte,


Fire Lyte


Blog: IncitingARiot.com

FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com

@IncitingARiot on Twitter

Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast

Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot



Monday, July 16, 2018

Pagan authors and whatever the opposite of reverence is



Way back in the long, long ago when I was a baby Pagan blogger, I wrote what I thought was a scathing criticism of traditional Paganism. That’s not correct. I wrote what I thought were several scathing criticisms of traditional Paganism, and I made quite the name for myself in our community as both a herald of critical thought and an unenlightened noob. I’ve had the better part of 10 years to examine some of those earlier positions, and in light of this article on Patheos I wanted to take another look at the perennial beat down of Pagan wayfinders. 

The article in question, by Patheos blogger Astrea, is, itself, an argument against the notion that walking a non-traditional Pagan path is somehow experiencing a lesser version of Paganism. While this school of thought was quite prevalent when I began blogging nearly a decade ago, there are enough podcasts and blogs and books and YouTube channels that let the average Pagan know there are as many ways of experiencing Paganism as there are Pagans. Though, to be fair to the author, I’m sure it was quite uncomfortable to be told in a public setting that “non-traditional path witches are as dangerous as unschooled surgeons and doctors”.

I can absolutely get behind the idea that one’s spiritual path can be more informed by what feels right to you rather than a set of ruled and traditions handed down in formal training. That is to say, how many people walk a Pagan path now because their spiritual upbringing didn’t jive with some inner voice that spoke of a different kind of truth? How many of us read the names of old gods in a textbooks and felt a tug to learn more? How many of us walked by a stream or saw a sunset or had a vivid dream wherein each experience whispered of a different way of experiencing the divine?

However, I believe there is quite a lot of value in at least understanding where your path comes from - traditional or otherwise - and how our community came to exist. We’re a tiny but mighty community. As I’ve said before, we represent less than half a percent of the population, yet we have an entire aisle at the bookstore. How many other tiny faiths can say the same? (I’m looking at you, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The sheer fact that nobody has put out a CotFSM Italian cookbook is some kind of crime and you will not convince me otherwise.)

There is value in understanding who walked the path before you so that, at the very least, you know why you disagree with their way of doing things. I’ll also admit to not reading as much of the work of Gardner or Sanders or Buckland or Crowley as I probably should have over the years, but I have read their work and researched their respective histories. 

Researching our collective Pagan history does more than provide a starting point for Pagan education - whatever version of “traditional” you decide. It helps you to be a strong advocate for yourself, your UPG  and it may very well help you find even more ways of experiencing the divine than mere intuition alone. 

For example: leaving Christianity meant leaving behind a lot of the holy days throughout the year that helped create and support community - and were a great excuse for a pot luck. Luckily, Paganism had my back with the Wicca-heavy Wheel of the Year. The Wheel is a modern invention of mid-20th century British Wiccans that combined multiple celebrations from multiple sources into one sweet excuse to have a party every 6 weeks. Personally, it’s a fine reminder to check in and examine how life has changed just as the seasons have changed, and honor the highs and lows respectively. It’s also a nice entryway to see all the ways in which we’ve begged, borrowed, stolen, and straight up created traditions from whole cloth. (*cough* Mabon *cough*) 

Digging into the background of Samhain or Lughnasadh is a great way to connect with the evolution of modern Paganism, but moreso a great way to start exploring ancient cultures. We should embrace research, especially the research that upsets or challenges us. From finding your own Pagan path to simply meeting and getting to know other Pagans, research is a way to speak a common language. It’s also a great way to know when you’re being straight up lied to. 

The Burning Times, human sacrifice, preparations for speaking with the dead, who and what the Devil is inside our community, whether Christianity is all that bad. These are all things that come up in discussion with other Pagans (and non-Pagans who find out you’re Pagan), and a lack of research leaves you ill-prepared for the discussion and open to being misled or poised to misinform others. (Seriously, how can you discuss the Satanic Panic without Crowley?)

I understand that there is a divide between those that practice formalized, traditional paths and those that do their own thing - I’m part of the latter group. But, in the decade that I’ve been in the Pagan blogosphere I’ve seen that divide soften into less of an “Us vs Them” mentality and more of a spectrum. The article above seems to conflate “traditional” Pagan spirituality with researching Pagan history, and they don’t have to be the same thing. From her article:


If merely accessing information leaves you feeling as though a spirit of some kind is looming over you and that you must attack it with your energy powers, I don’t quite know how to comfort you. You can think Crowley was a nut job, a dilettante that feigned to take himself more seriously than he actually did, or a font of knowledge, but you should probably have a passing understanding of who he is and how he - for good and for ill - furthered the visibility of modern Paganism. The same goes for the rest of our forebears. If not for Gardner’s eccentricity, would we have been gifted the liturgy of Doreen Valiente? Her words in the Charge of the Goddess and the Wiccan Rede and more have gone on to inspire generations of spiritual seekers. 

Research gives us a baseline of conversation and a springboard from which to dive into our own paths. It helps to eschew ideas you dislike and embrace new ways of understanding the divine. We do not have to revere our forebears in order to have knowledge of them, why they did what they did, and how they came to their own conclusions. We can have...whatever the opposite of reverence is for them. They took what they liked and left the rest, which is pretty much the very definition of non-traditional practice. 

We should neither fear the act of research, nor should we require it take a specific tract, but we should encourage and delight in it at every turn. 

Yes, even the stuff that makes us uncomfortable, uneasy, or undertheimpressionwe’rebeingwatchedfrombehindandneedtoblastitwithourenergypowers. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Episode 117: Inciting A Packed Up Riot

Episode 117 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast finds us discussing what it feels like to pack up your Paganism. What kind of closets do you find yourself in, and who incites you to retreat to those closets? How important are these pieces of yourself that you keep from the eyes of others?
This episode is a departure from the traditional Riot format. My hope is that, without the strict requirements of segments, I'll be able to take deeper dives into whatever topic inspires me at the time. This will, hopefully, lead to more frequent, more passionate episodes. I've often found that I don't put out an episode, because I didn't have enough content to fill out all the other segments. This way I'm hoping to give myself permission to provide you stories and topics that are interesting, timely, and important. 
Support Pagan media! Consider giving a small donation to Patreon.com/IncitingProjects! You’ll get cool rewards like unedited video and audio podcasts from Inciting A Riot and Inciting A BrewHaHa, as well as bonus extras not published anywhere else, plus deals and coupons! Patrons are charged on a per-creation basis, so you only pay for the content you want!
Love and Lyte,
Fire Lyte
Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Supreme Court, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and what constitutes a “narrow” ruling.



This morning your homophobic aunt gleefully posted on Facebook the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of bigot bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop. They’re the folks you’ve heard about who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, because baking cakes makes you tacitly complicit in gay butt sex and Jesus doesn’t like that. You may have also heard that this was a “narrow” decision in favor of the bigoted bakers, but then wondered how a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling could be considered “narrow”. Allow me to provide some clarification as to what happened and why nobody is really sure how happy and/or upset to be about it. 

The case itself has been going on so long that, like the McDonald’s hot coffee case of yesteryear, it’s become a bumper sticker court case. Everyone knows about the gay folks that were turned away from a baker and sued for discriminatory practices, and that’s probably all you know about it. Without giving you the 6 year history of this very complicated court case, I’ll instead let you know that the legal merit of it boiled down to Colorado’s Public Accomodations law. This law prohibits businesses that are open to the public from discrimating against customers based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. The couple originally won their lawsuit, but it was appealed. The state upheld the lower court’s ruling, so it was appealed again. SCOTUS, however, did not agree with the lower court ruling, and that’s why we’re here today. 

The court ruled by a 7-2 majority that the ruling of the lower Colorodo Civil Rights Commission be overturned. The majority opinion, however, was not regarding whether the case had legal merit, but whether the defendant’s had been treated with legal neutrality. The Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts did not apply a necessary level of  religious neutrality which is required to protect the defendant’s Free Exercise rights. 

From the opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy:




Most believe that the wording of this ruling is not going to set any legal precedents. The ruling, according to Kennedy, is regarding whether the proper procedure was followed, not whether the defendants had the legal merit to discriminate against LGBTQ people while operating a public business. 

Some clarity from NPR’s Nina Totenberg:



The court ruling the way it did leaves the door open for a future lawsuit to settle whether LGBTQ people can be discriminated against based on a business owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs. 

The “narrow” in this instance has nothing to do with the vote count, but, rather, the intended legal scope of the ruling.

At least on paper. I humbly disagree. 

Socially, your homophobic aunt, and millions of other people like her, will take this as a dog whistle that the Supreme Court of the United States has given endorsement of the idea that Christianity is an oppressed religion in a country where around 7 out of 10 of its citizens claim adherence. Defenders of right wing policies and Christian extremists will see this as a moral victory and disregard the fact that it was over procedure and not legal merit. 

As is evidenced, of course, by the offspring of our...ahem...President and other conservative politicians:






So, before folks in the middle or on the left soothe themselves with the balm that this is not a victory on merit but on procedure, take a second to see how the other side views this and the messaging they’re using. 

The Right believes their majority is under siege from a callous, selfish, leftist movement that seeks to hurt all the good, heterosexual Christians. They see today’s ruling as a major win. This fight is far from over. Bet your bottom dollar that far more “No Fags Allowed” signs will be going up around the country. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Special: When you hate the gays, but love your gay son.



A couple of months ago, one of my mother’s students came out to her. The young man had seen pictures of the two of us on social media, realized I was gay, and thought This woman still talks to her son; she must be an ally! He asked her to talk to his parents, who were having a less than stellar time with the revelation - being, themselves, good, staunch Christian conservatives of the deep East Texas variety. She declined to speak to his parents, and told him that she was sure his parents would find a way to continue to love him. 

See, here’s the thing. 

My parents love me. I do not for a second doubt that. But (of course there’s a ‘but’) they don’t love all parts of me. I’m sure this isn’t relegated to just my parents or just the situation of having a gay son. My folks don’t love LGBTQ people. Like many Christian conservatives, they practice the notion of hating the sin and loving the sinner. 

I’ve never understood this phrase. I think it evolved from the Biblical notion (the book of Matthew, specifically) of loving your enemies and praying for those that persecute you. It’s the idea that we are all people, and though some of us do terrible things we are still worthy of redemption and “god’s love”. To apply this idea to an intrinsic fact about someone’s being, however, makes no sense to my soul. I never chose to be gay. Folks don’t choose their gender. People don’t choose their race (unless you’re Rachel Dolezal?). Loving the sinner and hating the sin works for murderers, maybe. Thieves, cheats, con artists, rapists, Harvey Weinstein...maybe there are those who find a way to love the person separate from their transgression. I’ve never understood how that applies to compartmentalizing your love for your LGBTQ child. 

The (now-cancelled) Roseanne reboot was a perfect TV example of The Special. Roseanne, the character and the person, has become a staunch Trump-supporting conservative of the conspiracy theory slinging variety. The character voted for Trump against her own self-interests, but, more than that, against the interests of her grandchildren. Roseanne’s grandchildren are biracial and ostensibly queer, respectively, and she seems to dote on them unconditionally. It’s interesting to try to square the idea that Gramma Rosie could tell you how much she loves you to the moon and back, would fight armies for you, would go to your school and tell all the kids there to stop picking on you just because you like to wear sequin skirts and you identify as male...with the fact that she very much supports an administration who seeks at every turn to dehumanize marginalized folks who are just like you. 

We all have a Gramma Rosie in our life. A racist aunt who hugs you and loves you and welcome your Mexican boyfriend to the family cookout...and then posts a Build the Wall meme on Facebook. A father who doesn’t mind the fact that his teenage son will have sex with practically anything wearing a skirt, but when it’s a person of color all of a sudden here come the Bible verses about not mixing with other tribes. 

Being The Special means that people love a specific part of you - most likely the part they’re related to or sit next to in the office breakoom - and set about forgetting that all those other parts of you - being LGBTQ, your religion, your skin - are also equally you. I can no more remove my sexuality than I can my genetic link to my family, and to love only one part of that means that you do not love the entirety of my being. Yet, somehow, parents, friends, coworkers, and lovers all around the world think this is possible. 

So, what do you do in the face of that? I went through this crisis in 2016, after the fallout from the election created palpable schisms in my immediate family. My parents, who have a gay son and a gay Mexican immigrant son-in-law, happily and proudly voted for someone who thinks my love should be a crime and that my husband is some type of Super Rapist invented by Satan to steal all the White Jobs. (Side note: my husband does not want your job. Please. He works hard enough as it is and is very okay with you keeping your job. So, if white folks could quit leaving their jobs at our doorstep, that would be great. We’ve had to start paying extra to the recycling company for and extra bin to keep all the jobs.)

Do you write off family? What if it’s not family? What if it’s the polite coworker or the person that sits right next to you on the train every morning? What if it’s your boss? What if it’s your boyfriend? Your spouse? How many mixed race couples have I heard over the years have problems when it comes to loving the “partner” aspect of one another and somehow still slinging pejoratives about their beloved’s race or family or heritage? 

Calling out every single one of these people every single time they Other you will only lead to exhaustion...and very likely a much smaller family and social circle than you may wish. 

There are no easy, cut-and-dry answers here. We are simply coming to a place in society where social interconnectivity allows us to recognize that these behaviors are pervasive and pernicious and that you are not alone in your experience. What works for one may not work for you. The important thing is to recognize when you’ve become The Token or The Special to someone and decide how you will handle it. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte