Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Circle's Journey

The altar from our recent Ostara ritual.

Ever since I saw the movie The Jane Austen Book Club... I knew I wanted to be in a book club. I wanted to have literary adventures alongside dear friends and wine and impromptu misadventures. January 2012 saw the first meeting of my first book club. That first meeting there were only three of us. Four had joined the group, but one couldn't make it. So...the three of us set about embarking on our first literary journey as a group.

The book was The Night Circus, and I had many feelings about it. Mostly I was really angry with a character named Tsukiko...though to be honest I can't remember why. (But, seriously, I hated Tsukiko.)

There were some phenomenal book choices over the years - This is Where I Leave You, The Dovekeepers - and some stinkers - don't ever read The Twilight Before Christmas...it's the worst. (Rug burn on your vagina...seriously. That was a topic in the book.) And we grew. From the initial four members we grew and shrank in size until we'd nearly doubled. And from that book club, something even more important grew: my first circle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Episode 91: Inciting A Headology Riot

Rioters... I'm back.

While I realize that today of all days is an interesting time to revive the podcast from its diapause (more on that word later), I am not fooling you when I say that the new episode - the long awaited episode - of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast is finally here.

Today we're discussing the concept of Headology and whether or not it's something we're doing in creating our Pagan community and whether we as a community could survive without it. I reference Terry Pratchett's Discworld, the North Pond Hermit, and the Salem Witch Trials... Tying those together was a feat, but I hope it makes sense for you guys.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And we're all just fine with this...

Was going through my mundane and magical Facebook feeds today. Lots of bloviating on Ted Cruz's run for office, some new cranked out conspiracy theory involving the First Lady and weird "mass weigh-ins" for kids across the country... And I'm just sick of it.

So I wrote a thing on Facebook. Feel free to join the conversation there or in the comments below.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Spirituality of #TheDress

I turned on social media this morning to find that the world had collectively lost its mind over whether or not the dress in some viral photo was #WhiteandGold or #BlackandBlue. Combing through Facebook and Twitter, it seemed as though this debate was engendering some rather...passionate responses.

Some people were posting the typical "WHO THE F*CK CARES?!" comments. Others were trying to get us to focus on the fact that "OMG REAL NEWS IS HAPPENING!!! WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT A DRESS?!". Still more people had already created parody memes on the topic.

Of course, there was my favorite post so far from someone in the Rioter community. I must say, I feel it is the most balanced and rational response anytime something like viral mass hysteria occurs:

For the record, I am team #WhiteandGold.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Inciting a Literary Riot: Interview with Scarlet Imprint

In the last seven years a new Pagan publishing company has risen in the United Kingdom, unique for both their exquisite fine edition books and wide array of subject matter, known as Scarlet Imprint. Under the creative genius of Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech Scarlet Imprint has published over a dozen titles ranging in scope from a more traditional Grimoire to a book on Pomba Gira. Each title they publish is eclectic and well researched, adding to the greater conversation of contemporary occult literature. I was recently fortunate enough to interview Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech on their publishing success and views on the future of the Pagan publishing community:

                                                          photo copyright by Jonas Ploeger

Vinna: To begin, what first drew you both to the world of publishing?

Scarlet Imprint: Scarlet Imprint began in order to publish Peter's book on Babalon, The Red Goddess. The book was written over a period of seven years of ritual and devotional work, it needed to be published in a particular form, in a particular number, on a particular date. What she wanted was an hundred and fifty-six copies on the 7th of the 7th of 2007. It then needed to be ritually consecrated and had work to do in the world. The kind of stipulations demanded by The Red Goddess meant that it was not suitable to take to any existing publisher. We never intended to keep publishing ...

Vinna: In the seven short years that Scarlet Imprint has been publishing you have managed to claim a spot as one of the foremost occult publishers in the world. What would you say is the driving force behind your rapid success?

Scarlet Imprint: A lot of hard work! We love what we do - books have been so important to us - as somewhat eccentric individuals - from a young age, and that love speaks to people. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to realise with Scarlet Imprint: work which is spirit-based and practitioner-led, without sacrificing intellectual rigour or discrimination, and manifested with artistry. We are inspired as much by the traditional book arts as by the artistic avant-garde, and of course the foundation for our vision and drive is our own magical practice and conversations with spirits, our personal eschatology.  
Above all, we have been blessed to work with some of the most interesting and original writers of the modern occult, whose works have helped to materialize and progress the vision we had initially. It is fair to say that Scarlet Imprint is very much a collaborative endeavour - what we have done is a result of the writers and artists we've worked with and the support we've received from our readers and peers. The printed material is really the tip of an iceberg: it betrays the hidden reality of correspondences and friendships, and the magical and artistic work being done. 
Vinna: Your books are, without question, some of the most beautifully bound editions available on the market at this time. I'm sure with such quality material there must be a great demand for your hardcover editions. Is there a particular reason the hardcover editions are limited printings? 
Scarlet Imprint: Thank you! We work with the best binders and printers in the UK, and pay very close attention to the details and the execution. We consider the book a magical object in its own right, so with each title it is a question of beginning again - from a blank page, so to speak. All elements of the design spring from that first encounter with the text, and the contact with the numen or spirit of the work.
The limitations of the hardback runs are the result of both magical and practical considerations. The actual readership for specialist books on magic and witchcraft is very select; the internet distorts the real size of the community, and it does with many other aspects of our lives. As a small, independent publisher, we are committed to bringing out the most radical voices of the time as well as specialist texts which presuppose conversance with the principles of ritual and spellcraft. (These generally aren't entry-level books, although beginners would, I believe, gain much from examining and putting into practice the spellcraft and ritual procedures outlined by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold in his works on Brazilian sorcery, for instance. Competence and mastery are the result of need, and persistence.) The limited runs are reflective of the actual need or demand for specialist, practitioner works within the wider pagan and occult milieu. We are also bound by ethical and economic considerations: we avoid the mass-produced horror of the corporate book industry with its devaluing and dehumanising of labour, skill and expertise in the book arts, and the concomitant reduction of the material presence of the book to a mere simulacrum that falls apart in the hands on the first read. Moreover, whilst our hardbacks and fine editions are limited, we make sure we print enough copies to remain in stock for a number of years; and we also issue our titles in paperback and digital editions, so that the work remains in print and accessible. It is also important to us that the books reach serious students, regardless of their income or personal circumstances. I should also point out that the hardback editions enable us to produce the paperbacks, that without the ongoing support of our readers we would not be able to bring out these works.
Vinna: What influence, if any, do your personal magical practices have over your work at Scarlet Imprint?
Scarlet Imprint: Almost every aspect of our work is informed by our practice, the creation of these talismans cannot be separated from our magical work. Each step of the process is guided by divination, skrying, astrological considerations, the law of sympathies and the demands of the spirit of the book. In fact, every book can be considered a spell unto itself.
Immediately following the publication of the first edition of The Red Goddess, the spirits of the Goetia manifested, unbidden, in our appartment. This led to our working with them, and prompted the anthology Howlings, our second title. The deepening relationships with these spirits continues to play a role in what we do.
Finally, our magical practices are intimately entwined with our artistic expressions - whether writing, dance, painting - and Scarlet Imprint has emerged from this conjunction. There is an imperative to actively create. It's an act of enchantment ... creating and participating in culture, rather than being ghettoized or passive consumers of the mainstream mono-culture. We have joked that we are the under-undergound, working in that obscure chthonic substratum that sometimes eventually comes to light, sometimes remains hidden whilst other flowers bloom.
Vinna: Over the past several years have you noticed any marked trends emerging within the occult/Pagan publishing world?
Scarlet Imprint: There has been something of a gold rush in occult publishing, prompted by the ability to reach a global readership via the internet combined with developments in the print industry and the democratising effect of desktop publishing software. It is a double-edged sword, for just as this expansion has enabled a number of new voices to find a platform, much of what has been produced will be judged to have no lasting value. The bubble of artificially high prices on the secondhand market, which speculated on limited fine editions, is now bursting, and I imagine there will be a new, more sober, equilibrium established in the aftermath.
Another observation would be the effect of the academy and academic research on practitioners, both in terms of magical practice and identity. 
Vinna: As we evolve as an occult/Pagan community it stands to reason that our occult/Pagan publishers evolve with us. What evolution do you feel is necessary for the occult/Pagan publishers if they are to remain relevant?
Scarlet Imprint: I think that is a question that should be opened to a wider discussion, there are so many issues and interests that need to be addressed. I touched on the question of the erosion of 'the book' and the loss of publishing and editorial skills, which affects both the mainstream and Pagan/occult alike. For our part - and this is the trajectory we've followed - we feel that the future is with small publishers who can form close working relationships with their writers to present their work in the best possible light. The publisher only makes sense if they have expertise in their field and specific professional skills: editing, proof reading, indexing, typography, design and promotion. By publishing an author we are vouching for the quality and relevance of his or her work to our readers. Herein lies the triune basis of successful publishing: the mutually supportive relationship between authors, publishers and readers. We are all practitioners, contributing as our aptitude and means allow. And no one is 'in it to get rich.' 
We suspect that the large publishers will fail, that is, be crushed by Amazon, and more people will discover the beauty of small, bespoke presses and imprints and the joy of well-made traditional books.
Vinna: What books or projects are currently in the future for Scarlet Imprint?

Scarlet Imprint: We keep most future projects sub rosa, but we can confirm that there is an essay collection The Brazen Vessel in progress. This gathers together a wide range of our writings on witchcraft, magic et al. We have several other titles at various stages of production, which you can find out about first if you drop us an email and join our subscriber list.  
Vinna Finally, what books are you both currently reading?
Scarlet Imprint: Cecil Williamson’s Book of Witchcraft by Steve Patterson, The Cunning Man’s Handbook by Jim Baker, The Origin’s of the World’s Mythologies by E.J. Michael Witzel, and The Gardens of Adonis by Marcel Detienne. That is personal reading outside of our research interests, which would include a stack of about twenty or thirty titles each! There is also a selection of other titles we dip into, we like to read to each other - poetry or passages from books - late at night. 
I hope you have enjoyed the interview and found Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech as fascinating as I do. If you would like to purchase any of Scarlet Imprint's titles they can be found at their website: http://scarletimprint.com/ . I would personally recommend Apocalyptic Witchcraft, Mandragora, and Serpent Songs. Keep an eye out Rioters, Scarlet Imprint is publishing some of the most rewarding books on the Pagan market right now and they are worth your attention.
Until next time,
Vinna Harper

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Inciting a Literary Riot: Serpent Songs

Bewitching may be the most appropriate word for Serpent Songs, a newer release from the publisher Scarlet Imprint, for each essay within it compels you into the world of the author. I crept through darkened hedges with Gemma Gary, walked goose-footed with Arkaitz Urbeltz and greased fetches with Sarah Anne Lawless. Serpent Songs is a remarkable book of fifteen essays written by practitioners from varying paths, and allows the reader a small peek into the beliefs and traditions of the author.

Overall Serpent Songs is a wonderful collection. Although Scarlet Imprint is often lauded for their talismanic hardcover publishing, the ebook copy I read did not disappoint in the least. Each essay in the book was well written and engaging, exposing you to disparate cultures and beliefs through the eyes of the practitioners themselves. Serpent Songs is a must have for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of various Craft traditions from around the world. Although this is not a how-to book for anyone interested in practicing any of these paths themselves, some of the authors provide references at the end of their essay for those interested in learning more. In terms of content this book earns an A+.

On the note of price Serpent Songs is a bit of a wild card based on the edition you would like. While a hardcover is a bit pricy (but in terms of quality printing WOW are their books worth the cash), you can also purchase a soft cover or ebook for a very reasonable price.

Who is this book for? Anyone interested in Craft, various paths and terrific writing. Definitely a good staple for any witch's library and would also make a fine Yule gift as well. 

To purchase your very own copy of this wonderful book: http://scarletimprint.com/books/serpent-songs/

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post: an interview with Scarlet Imprint!

Until tomorrow Rioters,
Vinna Harper

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Starbucks. Gay. Semen. Lattes.

A pic of me enjoying a heaping pile of Starbuck's Semen Coffee circa 2011.
There's a video going around the gay blogosphere that I just couldn't not share. (Apologies to grammarians everywhere.)

I would comment on it, but I'm truthfully just presenting it to you because you might be like me and need about 7 minutes of the hardest, most gut-bustling laughter I've had in quite a long time. I didn't get 3 minutes into the video before I found it was difficult to breathe and I thought I might lose my breakfast if I kept up.

So... I present to you... The Harlem pastor who is making an honest to goodness claim that Starbuck's is putting gay semen in their beverages in order to attract the repeat business of sodomites.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Resurrection of Eli Hastings

Happy Halloween! Blessed Samhain! Joyous Day of the Dead! Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Rioters, I hope you've enjoyed this most witchy time of year so far. To cap it all off, I'm posting the short story I wrote especially for Episode 90 of the podcast: The Resurrection of Eli Hastings. It's set during the era of the witch trials in America, and it features a male witch. Something I think all too often forgotten is that men were also tried as witches, and I thought it was an interesting twist on the typical folk tale.

I hope you all enjoy the story! Would love to read your feedback in the comments below!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Friday, October 31, 2014

Episode 90: Inciting A Hallowed Riot (2014)

Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain, Rioters! 

Tonight's Hallowed Riot features the following songs and stories. Please, if you like them, support these artists and storytellers!

Goodnight Moon - Shivaree
Witches’ Ball - The Dagons
The Witches’ Creed - Castalia
Mushroom Song - Tricky Pixie
Bottom of the River - Delta Rae
Dance in the Graveyards - Delta Rae

The Devil’s Mansion - Folk tale from New Orleans, LA
To Free A House from Haunting - Valerie Worth
What Do You Come For? - Folk Tale 
The Fairy Reel - Neil Gaiman (from Fragile Things)
The Resurrection of Eli Hastings - Fire Lyte

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Samhain Quarter Call

Samhain is just hours away. For those of us that are celebrating, there is an almost tangible thinning of the veil. The air feels fraught with magic and whispers from the Other Land.

This year is the first time I will be performing a planned group ritual. These are friends I've had for years and trust immensely. I've written out what our basic ritual will be, and when I say basic I mean...basic. Like...skeletal. I particularly enjoyed the Quarter Call that we will be using at the beginning and I thought I'd share it with you Rioters.

Wherever you are and however you plan on celebrating, may you do so with reverence, remembrance, joy, and, above all, magic.

Stay tuned to your pod feeds, because this year's Hallowed Riot will be out soon!'

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inciting a Literary Riot: an Interview with Professor Richard Kieckhefer

Hello Rioters! I am Vinna, your new Literary Maven here at the Riot, and we are beginning our book blogs with a very special interview. Today I am thrilled to introduce you to one of the most exciting researchers in the field of academic religious studies: Professor Richard Kieckhefer. Professor Kieckhefer's research focuses on the history of witchcraft and magic, as well as church architecture in the late Middle Ages.  He is currently employed as a Professor of Religion and History at Northwestern University in Illinois. Professor Kieckhefer if also the author of several books including European Witch Trials (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976), Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germanyi (Pennsylvania, 1979), Unquiet Souls (Chicago, 1984), Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1989), and Forbidden Rites (Sutton and Penn State, 1997).  His most recent book is Theology in Stone (Oxford, 2004), although he currently has several projects underway for possible publication in 2016. We may be over a year away from reviewing his latest book, but I would like to present to you my short interview with Professor Kieckhefer as a literary amuse-bouche to give you just a bit of his work.

Episode 89: Inciting Vinna Harper's Riot

Episode 89 welcomes the Riot's latest addition: Vinna Harper! She will be our new literary maven in charge of reviewing books, interviewing authors, and all around bringing you the finest selection of books curated for the Riot audience.

If you'd like to get in touch with Vinna, you can email Vinna@IncitingARiot.com or tweet @VinnaGrey!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Beating of Daniel Pierce

Flipping through any part of social media in the last few days will likely have resulted in seeing headlines like "How Not to React When Your Son Comes Out" or "Man Comes Out to Family, Is Cursed, Beaten & Thrown Out." Most articles go on to reiterate the headline, telling the reader that there is a man named Daniel Pierce who came out to his family, and, upon doing so, was verbally and physically abused. A person believed to be Pierce's boyfriend took partial video and full audio of the incident. It has gone viral.

I know all too well the realities of growing up in an extremely conservative household. I know all too well what it is like to try and accept your sexuality when you're spending your nights crying and begging god, between choking sobs, to wake up different. To wake up straight. I know what it's like to have your father come at you. To have your mother tell you how disgusting and against "God" your "choice" or "behavior" is.

I was sent to a Christian counselor with the hope that I would become straight. I have had hands laid on me in prayer in order to convert me. I contemplated suicide from an early age, because I had no friends and was the community outcast. Being the only obviously gay kid in a town of 585 people hundreds of miles away from any kind of metropolitan area left me pretty exposed.  Nobody knew what 'gay' was...except that it was for perverted men that probably preyed on little boys.

In fact, when I was in high school, I spent two years as a peer counselor in the national organization PALs. My mother, quite concerned about my sexual predilections, asked me very seriously if it was a good idea for me to be a mentor to those boys given that I was a sexual deviant and all.

Watching the video (below...major, major abuse trigger warning...) brought up quite a bit of emotion, as one might expect. I had actually avoided watching the video for several days, because I was sure I couldn't handle it. In the end, after watching it, I realized a few things:

  1. Tears don't always feel cold and wet. Sometimes they feel hot and sharp, like they're coming from a place littered with molten pain. 
  2. I went through a scene almost exactly like this. 
  3. I went through a scene a bit worse than this when my parents brought the sheriff over to threaten to arrest me, because they found out I was looking at gay porn, which I found out was illegal. Straight porn was perfectly okay, but gay porn... Yikes! 
  4. I survived.
  5. I have scars.
  6. I'm kind of proud of those scars in retrospect.
Things with my family, over a decade later, are still rocky. As much progress as we've made, we still have quite the chasm between us. My brother will forever be the picture of heterosexual normative behavior that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent could want. I will always be the liberal, overly political, overly opinionated, boisterous, ostentatious gay guy that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent would tell their children to stay the fuck away from. And, it's because of that dichotomy existing so immediately in our family that there are so many choices that my parents make, many without even realizing it. 

But, I don't want to bash my parents. They're good folks who have honestly come a long way. My mother the most, as she came to my wedding and embraced my husband as her son and cried tears of joy at our union. 

There is a lie that has been told online for a number of years now. It gets better. That's a lie. For many, it doesn't get better. It gets worse. It gets different. It gets separate. It gets strange. It gets lonely. It gets new. It gets angry. It doesn't always get better, but it gets real and it gets honest, and I think that's the most important thing to tell our gay youth. 

Getting honest is always better than getting better. Better is a lie. That's telling a kid that the grass is greener if you just wait. Not true. A disproportionate number of homeless people are gay youth. The statistics of abuse and neglect and downright awfulness happening to gay kids that become gay adults in those situations is staggering and heart-wrenching. 

I don't know that my life got better, but it got honest and it got happier eventually. I married the love of my life this year. I have friends that I would walk hot coals and brave bitter circumstance for. We own our own home, and I have my own personal menagerie of animal companions. I'm kind of like a Disney Princess with better hair. 

Daniel Pierce, not that you're reading this, but I hope that fate and circumstance do get better for you. I am not going to wish that your family comes around and loves you and hugs you, because when people tell me my family is going to do that I want to vomit. I have all the family I need in the pieced together tapestry of not-technically-related folks who surround me with love every single day. If my family ever feels like joining up with that, bully for them. 

I hope that you find peace and solace knowing that you're not alone. That you are brave. That your honesty will be a badge of pride and a major point of honor you can wear for the rest of your life.

I'm not sure how the woman in the video can say that she's known Daniel was gay since he was a tiny boy and then go on to state he made a choice to be gay. I don't know how his father could beat him for trying to be honest. The woman speaking says that "I love you. Now, I know you're not going to believe that..." And...I don't. I don't know about Daniel, but if loving me means beating me up, calling me a disgrace, verbally abusing me, and disowning me... Well, I guess I don't know what love is.

Before I post the video, I'd first like to draw attention to a GoFundMe campaign created to help with the living expenses of Daniel Pierce, the brave victim at the heart of this viral video. If you can even give a dollar, I'm sure that would go a long way to helping this guy get on his feet. As of this writing, the campaign has raised almost $35,000. I'm hoping that the money helps him get on his feet, get an education, and secure housing. As of right now it appears, by posted accounts in a few places online, that he is staying with a friend. This money should be able to get him on his own two feet and started in a positive direction. 

Many blessings, Daniel. May your journey be bright.

And now...the video.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 88: Inciting A Privileged Riot

Episode 88 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast finds us inciting a privileged riot with the incomparable Crystal Blanton. Crystal is a social worker, Wiccan High Priestess, Pagan author, and expert in the fields of privilege and intersectionality.

We discuss these notions in the macrocosm of greater society as well as meditate on the privileges and disadvantages experienced in the Pagan community. Yes, we use the term 'Wiccanate' privilege. You're welcome.

Crystal Blanton can be found at:

Twitter: @BlantonHPs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevCrystal.Blanton

Her latest anthology, Shades of Ritual, can be purchased through Amazon (paperback and Kindle) here: 


Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte





Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 87: Inciting A Contractual Riot (featuring Dr. Leah Torres & Cory Hutcheson)

Episode 87 of Inciting A Riot the podcast was a long time coming, but it's filled with some amazing special guests!

Dr. Leah Torres comes on to discuss issues of women's health, defines birth control, and discusses the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling.

Cory Hutcheson stops by for a discussion of the recent Slenderman stabbings as well as a greater conversation of social contracts in and around our community. 

Dr. Torres can be found at LeahTorres.com or on Twitter @LeahNTorres.

Cory can be heard on his podcast New World Witchery, on twitter @ctsluna, or at his blog: NewWorldWitchery.com.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte