Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Story of Failure

 

Two days ago I had a pretty disastrous trail run. Disastrous for me, that is. Normally, I run for a good 6 miles or so on cardio days when the weather is nice and I am not working. I'm able to run at a good, steady pace and, by the end of the summer, I'm usually able to up that to 8-10 miles at an 8-9 minute mile. I enjoy exercise. I'm no muscle bound cover model, but I enjoy the cathartic release of stress through physical activity.

Two days ago I went out for my usual run. It was a gorgeous day that had, thankfully, proven the weatherman to be wrong in his forecast of gray skies and possible rain. It was warm and I needed a break from studying. It ended abruptly, however, as I realized about 1.5 miles in that I was not feeling well. My hands, lips, and legs started a familiar tingly feeling that begins when my blood sugar drops out. I'm just a touch hypoglycemic and I hadn't eaten enough that day...apparently. I walked the final half mile of my first lap through the preserve in defeat.

I have a little app that keeps track of my running progress. I normally share that run on my personal social media for a few reasons. My father is a runner, and running is a way that I connect with him. A lot of my family is made up of pretty active people. And, sure, it's a bit of a humblebrag. Hey! Look at my awesome running skills!

That day I did not share my run to social media. I drank a sports drink, got in my car, and headed home feeling more than a bit defeated.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spiritual Parenting & Indoctrination: An Invitation

Rioters! It's been quite a while since we've had a good roundtable discussion on the Riot, but I think it's high time we discuss the notion of raising our children with (or without) spiritual beliefs.

Inspired by a discussion I had yesterday on social media, I would like to extend an invitation to all the parents out there that would be interested in coming on and discussing the issues involved when it comes whether or not to raise your children with spiritual beliefs.

The discussion will include:


  • Do you have a particular faith? If so, is it different from your parents' faith? How did you come to it?
  • Do you share your specific faith with your children? At what age did you start? Are there specific rituals (such as baptisms, naming ceremonies, high holidays, etc.) in which they participate?
  • Do you expose them to other spiritual beliefs? How do you discuss the differences and similarities between another faith and your own?
  • The word "indoctrination" gets thrown around when it comes to certain kinds of faiths and practices. Do you feel it is "indoctrination" to teach children about faith or spirituality (or lack thereof) at an early age? Why or why not?
And so on.

Please write to FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com to let me know whether you would be interested in participating in this discussion. It will be held via Skype, and would, ideally, include members of multiple faiths (and hopefully at least one representative from a non-faith group/agnostic family). 

As with discussions in the past, you may use whatever name you would like publicly to protect your personal life if you so choose.

My goal is to get this discussion to happen some time in the next week so that it can be broadcast by end of May.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Marvel's Misogynist Merchandising Malady

I am a boy.

I love comics.

All my favorite characters are girls.

And I have always wondered why my shelves had to be lined with Cyclops and Wolverine action figures.

Friday, May 8, 2015

TV Review: The Almighty Johnsons

Netflix has been insisting for some time that I watch a show called The Almighty Johnsons. However, this is the same service that has been begging me to watch Ancient Aliens, Digimon, and the Nicholas Cage version of Left Behind for quite a while now. So, suffice to say this website totally knows me I am always hesitant of accepting recommendations. However, all my regular shows are off taking a hiatus for the summer, and I had time, so I decided what the hell. Live life to the fullest. Go out on a limb. Take a chance. What's the worst that could happen?

And...for once...Netflix got something right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Little Battles: Larry Wilmore and the Taboo Words

Nine years ago I set about deciding I was going to love a man. A specific man. The man who would later be my first (and only) live-in boyfriend. A man who would challenge my ego and allow me the space to grow up. He was older than me - come to think of it, he still is - but our age meant nothing as he always got carded at restaurants and bars and I didn't.

We got a cat. A dog. A horse. A bird. An apartment. Another apartment. Still another apartment. A rented house. A house we bought. A half dozen automobiles after mine mysteriously had a habit of ending up crashed. A couple of rings. A wedding day.

Did we fight for equality? I don't know. I didn't march in any rallies, but I cast my vote when I was able. I was the first openly gay person in the department in which I was an officer in Texas. There were times when he was not allowed near my parents' home and we had to hide his existence from our apartment. And there came a day when he and my father were showing off their respective roping skills.

Little battles are the ones that matter. The battle to not give up when things get tough. The battle to say yes when saying no is easier. The battle to see each other through the darkness and hope like hell that a light starts shining soon or else you don't know how you'll make it out alive...but then you do...

Somehow.

I don't know whether this segues properly or not, but I cannot get an episode of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore out of my head. It aired on April 27, 2015 and it largely dealt with the recent Bruce Jenner interview. It began with Wilmore interviewing Ian Harvie, transgender male entertainer (I use that codifier because...well...it's pertinent to the discussion), about certain terminology as it relates to the transgender community.



Larry's humor seemed to be less about satire, as his betters Colbert and Stewart do, and more about laughing at how icky and uncomfortable the entire situation was to him. Sure, he did his due liberal diligence and talked about how "brave" he thought the Jenner interview was, but...then he did something that made me...well...upset.



In his panel discussion, Wilmore asked if there was a trans-community equivalent of the "N-word". Both of his trans panelists said that there was, but declined to use the word so as not to give permission for others to use the word. They stressed how important they thought it was not to spread the word on national television and that they didn't want that word used during their appearance. They said this. 

So Wilmore had Harvie write the word down...and immediately blurted it out. And kept blurting it out, seeming rather flummoxed at the pained looks on 2/3rds of his panelists' faces. Later on he said the words "fag" and "tranny" in the same sentence as "the n-word" as examples of terrible words that shouldn't be used.

But he just used two of those three. Not, of course, the word that pertains to his immediate community. Not the word that affects him or his identity. Not a word he personally relates to name calling and abuse. But...you know... 

See, folks, it's little battles. My father didn't go horseback riding with my husband just because I wanted him to. It was years and seeing that my husband made me happy. Seeing that I was the same person. Seeing that I was a better person because of him. It was the humanizing of the alien that finally made my husband my family, that allowed him a place at Thanksgiving dinners and family vacations. 

We have a lot of battles to fight. Each community and sub-community and niche community and micro community needs to realize that we have a lot of tiny battles to fight, but the first is ending the battle of recognition. We need to recognize the pain of our sister and brother and sibling communities. We need to stop putting our struggle on an altar of importance while feigning empathy for another's struggle. 

Equality is an impossible war. There is likely never to come a day in which all people feel perfectly and completely accepted and comfortable in every possible situation. There will always be a mainstream and a counterculture. There will always be a minority and a majority. That's just how societies function. And with the Age of Information making us all constantly exposed to the farthest reaches of just how interesting and unique humanity can be, it's going to be more important than ever that we learn to accept without explanation and empathize without argument. 

Because one day someone is going to shine a light in this darkness, but until then we have to hope like hell we make it through together. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dear Selina Anderson...


There's this blog whose existence I became aware of recently when a Rioter told me they used a picture of me on one of their blog posts. It's run by someone named "Selina Anderson" and seems to mine random snippets of other pagan blogs along with random photos from even more pagan blogs and posts them under the aforementioned Ms. Anderson's moniker.

Just because I'm That Guy, I did a little clicking around.

This is Selina Anderson on Google+.

This is her YouTube account.

She also claims on her Google+ account (seriously, who uses Google+?) that she contributes to something called Esoteric Soup and Alchemy and Alchemists.

Now, I'm not one to start any kind of online war or anything (please don't pop your eyeballs out of your head from rolling them), but this is a bridge too far for my liking, thank you very much. The author of the information that accompanies my dashing photograph is a guy named Carolina Dean, whose blog of quite interesting conjure information is found here. (*edit* On second thought, feel free to ignore that guy's blog. He was kind of an asshat about the whole thing.)

See...here's the thing about us Pagan folks. We're a small community. If you want to use something of ours, just ask. We will very likely say yes. We might have stipulations, but we don't mind sharing. But what's ours is not yours for the taking just because you like the picture or the spell or the quote or whatever.

Do I really need to have the Copyright Infringement discussion all over again?

Suffice to say, this blog, "Pagan-Space" is not affiliated with "PaganSpace.net", the social media platform for pagans to chat about...stuff.

It isn't even filled with original information. It just posts, seemingly automatically, every few hours with a snippet of information and a random picture.

Selina... Honey... You've angered witches.

Multiple witches.

I really, really wouldn't want to be you right now.

You might want to take down your entire website...before we do it for you.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Episode 92: Inciting Mogg Morgan's Riot

Episode 92 of Inciting A Riot the Podcast features a full-length sit down between Literary Maven Vinna Harper and Mogg Morgan of Mandrake of Oxford, a Pagan publishing house based in England.

News: Bruce Jenner comes out, California may require vaccinations for children, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Pope Francis speaks out about Armenian genocide, and the Nevada Bunny Ranch is looking for secret shoppers!

Mandrake of Oxford: http://mandrake.uk.net

Contact Mogg via his website: http://mandrake.uk.net/contact/



Vinna Harper's Contact Info:

@VinnaGrey on Twitter
Vinna@IncitingARiot.com

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
FireLyte@IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Facebook.com/IncitingARiotPodcast
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inciting-a-riot/id337689333?mt=2

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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