PSA

[The following PSA is discusses topics that are NSFW.]

Apparently there’s another Ishtar = Easter type graphic going around, and I just want to rip it apart before it spreads.

Here is the graphic:

I just….no, just no.

The text is from Barbara G. Walker’s “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” (I do not have the book in front of me, but i read that book from cover to cover.) Walker’s work is INFAMOUS for being grossly inaccurate about everything from etymology to history of religion to, well, everything.

I will break it down for you:

“Oriental Great Goddess” – “Oriental” is an archaic, racist term used to describe a wide variety of people (from Saudi Arabia to China to everywhere in between).  Even if we accept that there was such a concept as a “Great Goddess” way back when (there wasn’t) the term “Oriental Great Goddess” doesn’t make any sense. Do you know how many nations collectively make up this idea of “the Orient”? A lot. Also, I never hear anyone saying “Occidental Great Goddess” because that obviously would be silly.

Furthermore, here is part of the entry from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

cunt (n.)

“female intercrural foramen,” or, as some 18c. writers refer to it, “the monosyllable,” Middle English cunte “female genitalia,” by early 14c. (in Hendyng’s “Proverbs” — ʒeve þi cunte to cunni[n]g, And crave affetir wedding), akin to Old Norse kunta, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, and Middle Low German kunte, from Proto-Germanic *kunton, of uncertain origin. Some suggest a link with Latin cuneus “wedge,” others to PIE root *geu- “hollow place,” still others to PIE *gwen-, root of queen and Greek gyne “woman.”

The form is similar to Latin cunnus “female pudenda” (also, vulgarly, “a woman”), which is likewise of disputed origin, perhaps literally “gash, slit,” from PIE *sker- “to cut,” or literally “sheath,” from PIE *kut-no-, from root *(s)keu-“to conceal, hide.”

Hec vulva: a cunt. Hic cunnus: idem est. [from Londesborough Illustrated Nominale, c.1500, in “Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies,” eds. Wright and Wülcker, vol. 1, 1884]

As you can see, the word has absolutely nothing to do with Sanskrit apart the fact that it has Indo-European roots.

BTW, “country” comes from the Vulgar Latin “lying opposite”, “kin” from Old English cynn “family; race; kind, sort, rank; nature; gender, sex,”, and “kind” from from Old English gecynd “kind, nature, race,” related to cynn “family”, none of which have anything to do with the word “cunt”. The fact that some words have similar sounds to each other does NOT mean that they are related, and this is a mistake Ms. Walker makes OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

In short, this is horrible and terrible and needs to go away. Right now.

Seriously, the Online Etymology Dictionary probably isn’t the most reliable source out there, but I GUARANTEE YOU that it’s far superior to anything Walker wrote in her encyclopedias.

P.S. I thought you might like to know that, if her writings are any indication, Walker is an atheist who speaks disdainfully of witchcraft, invoking spirits, and other such practices, which I’ve always found amusing, given the sort of people who take her words as Truth.

I don’t expect that any of you need this PSA though, because surely all of you know that Walker’s books are, well, seriously outdated is being charitable. The whole book is just as bad as this one little entry.

My Mani Necklace Broke….

Pagan!Gef: Ohshit! THAT MUST MEAN THE GOD IS ANGRY WITH ME! WHAT DID I DO?! *goes through everything she’s done since last week* THIS HAS TO BE A SIGN!

Rational!Gef: I’m sure the beads were just too heavy for the string and it broke. *picks up pieces of necklace* You can restring it.

Pagan!Gef: But what if He really is angry at me?

Rational!Gef: The. string. was. too. weak. The. beads. were. too. heavy. Restring. it.

Pagan!Gef: *pauses* Really?

Rational!Gef: Really, and I’m sure you can do some ^waves hand* Woo thing to determine if the moon god is mega pissed at you for something. If you ask my opinion though, you just need to restring it. Stuff breaks. “‘The simplest explanation is usually the right one, etc. etc.”

Writer!Gef: Um, hello? Can I get some love?

Everyone: Fuck no, mom’s going to be riding our ass all day!

Writer!Gef: ……..

No, Just No.

The tumblr Pagan tag is a source of endless entertainment and frustration for me, but mostly entertainment. Today, I found this graphic:

I have no words for this.

Actually, I have a couple:

“Ishtar” is pronounced “Ish-tar”, this is the way my professor pronounced it, and I trust his judgement, because he, you know, studies this stuff for a living.

ERMEGERD CONSTANTINE! For the love of everything, Constantine didn’t have anything to do with determining the date of Easter or the meaning of Easter or anything like that, THAT debate wasn’t resolved for AGES after Constantine.

Bunnies? Try lions.

I love how this graphic uses “fertility and sex” as if they’re a matched set. I’m sure it might surprise some of these people to learn that songs like “Ishtar will not tire” exist, which have nothing to do with fertility and everything to do with the goddess fucking a whole lot of men near the wall of the city. Why? Because she wants to. (And she’s the goddess of prostitutes, they prayed to her for customers.)

Honestly, why am I even responding to this? Everyone reading this knows that its stupid.

Fun With Search Engines!

So, to offset all the serious posts and butthurt, here are some selections from the “Search Engine Terms” box in the “Site Stats” section on my dashboard, which tells me what terms people have searched that have eventually led them to this blog, now with my snarky commentary.

From yesterday, we have:

“in what book does dante have sex with the demon in working for the devil”

Post they most likely found: Badass Decay in the Dante Valentine Series

My answer: Dante has sex with Japhrimel in the first book (Working for the Devil), which is how she becomes a hedaira in the first place, and then they have sex a bunch of other times, and then somehow Dante turns into the weepiest weepy protagonist ever, and then a crap ending happens.

From an unspecified time, we have:

“incest kinki stuff”

Post they most likely found: One of the early ones I did on “divine incest” my review of Fifty Shades, or any time I reference either teh kink or incest in one of my posts

Er….no comment….

“controlling a spirit animal”

Post they most likely found: Likely one of the times I’ve discussed animal totems/power animals, etc. etc.

I definitely would not recommend trying to control a spirit animal. They are generally friendly and willing to help you if you ask politely, and that’s just asking for trouble, IMHO.

“norse pagans aren’t warm and friendly”

Post they most likely found: I have no idea.

I hope this blog has changed your mind. 🙂

“would you try anything mentioned in fifty shades of grey”

Post they most likely found: My review of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Unlikely, because Christian Grey is an abusive fuckwit and a horrible excuse for a Dom, as for kinky things in general, there are some things I would like to try, but I’m not in a hurry to try them.

“cloves in with your tarot deck”

Post they most likely found: One of the posts where I reference my Mythical Goddess Tarot deck.

You see, my Mythical Goddess had a very strong “industrial” smell when I bought it, so I stuck some cloves in the box with the cards, now it smells very nice. It’s a good trick to use if you buy a deck that reeks (just make sure you like the smell of cloves first).

“christian grey doesn’t give aftercare”

Post they most likely found: My review of Fifty Shades of Grey.

He doesn’t.

If I see any others, I’ll let you know.

Enter Dionysus, Carrying a Thyrsus

It all started with a dream that Freyja hijacked, which led to a kind friend doing a bit of Seeing for me, not that I don’t trust this friend, but I decided to take an offer for a second opinion from someone who, funnily enough, felt like she was being nudged to do this for me. Since she was asking Hekate, I figured that, in addition to asking about what Freyja wanted from me, I might as well ask Her about Dionysus and Aphrodite, because I’ve always felt drawn to them, and I was kind of curious about a dream I had a few months ago (yeah, I know, I should ask for these things closer to the date of my dreams) where Semele’s son was chatting up Njord.

This is the message I received, in full:

Hekate and Dionysos look upon you with favour, Aphrodite does not. There’s a crook in the road – you cannot yet see it, but it is where your ancestors dwell. One of them interested Dionysos and Dionysos was refused. Yet He sees in you the triumph of many battles and seeks to help you to overcome them. If you accept Him in your heart, He will give you the mystery that melts away every sorrow.

Yet your paths lies still with Freya the warlike seducer, who seeks to entice you in Her divine bed. It’s Hers the sword that hides in a smile and if you take Her hand, absolving yourself of mortal guilt, many gifts She will pass in your arms. Smile, child, there’s a sorrow that debilitates and one that uplifts. You are to embrace the second one soon.

I asked for some clarification because if anyone can understand cryptic oracles from Greek deities, it’s the person who did the work for me in the first place. In her expert opinion, she believes the “mystery that melts away every sorrow” refers to the epithets “Mieilikios” (“Easy-to-be-Appeased”, “Gracious”, “Merciful”)  and “Lusios” (“Loosener”, “Liberator”). The rest of the message is pretty straightforward, particularly the absolving oneself of mortal guilt line, no comment on the bedding part. As for my ancestors, I don’t know a whole lot about either my biological or adoptive ancestors, other than that my a-family is full of farmers, and for all I know my bio-family is too.

So, the question is, what do I do with this information? At the moment, seek a second opinion, don’t jump to conclusions. There’s so much in this message that rings true, but right now I feel like a debutante who has lost my chaperone and there’s a handsome stranger asking me for a dance, and I don’t know what to do except tell my friends and hope for some good advice.

Until then, DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!

Names, Names, Names

I’ll never forget what my ninth grade English teacher said about naming: “Names have meaning. When an author gives a character a certain name, what does it tell you about the character?” but lately it seems like I’ve been seeing reviews for books with increasingly crazy names that really make no sense (and here I’m looking at you, young adult market).

I mean, seriously, here’s a random selection of names from YA novels I’ve seen lately:

  1. America Singer
  2. Velveteen Monroe
  3. Zoey Redbird
  4. Evening Spiker
  5. Ever
  6. Yukiko Kitsune

One of my favourite YA authors is L.J. Smith. If you haven’t read The Forbidden Game, go and read it. (She’s going to be writing a sequel to it, too! <3) It’s awesome, it takes its inspiration from Norse mythology, and it’s awesome. The name of the main character in The Forbidden Game has the very ordinary name of Jenny, Jenny Thornton, and her boyfriend’s name is Tom.

Seriously, Jenny and Tom, and yet, they still say more about their personalities than all those fancy names up top need at least two extra syllables to say. Tom and Jenny are both, well, everypersons, and they have names that reflect that.

Okay, sometimes authors give their characters really warped names, let’s take Philip K. Dick’s VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligent System). The main character in this book is named Horselover Fat–now go back and look at the author’s name.

This is the part where you say “Oh, I get it! This is Philip K. Dick’s highly fictionalized autobiography focusing on his acceptance of Gnosticism!” (“Philip” means “lover of horses” and Dick is German for fat.) and at that point your mind is blown.

Now, I’m not saying that all of the names above are completely unjustified, after all “America” is a perfectly acceptable name (at least, in the US) like Dakota, or whatever, and in Zoey’s case, she’s a vampyre, and all vampyres are given the option to change their names to whatever they want, so you get names like “Jack Twist” (yes, the fledgling in question is gay). Although, there’s really no need for that extra y, as Zoe is still pronounced “Zoh-ee” without it, but whatever. But Velveteen? Evening Spiker? What is it with novels set in the future? Are parents just that desperate for names that they need to start naming their children after the weather (Final Fantasy has you beat there, ha!)

Okay, okay, you know what? I’m guilty of this, I like giving my RPG characters painfully obvious names. I called my gambler Felix (“luck”), my half-Chinese albino character is named Yue (“moon”), my somewhat anal-retentive Paladin-like, dignified super soldier is Auguste (“greatness”). I like my character names to reflect something about the character, or about the people who gave them that name, as with Beauregard (yes, that’s his first name) whose parents gave him that name because they wanted to give him a name that was as  pretentious as possible, because they’re jerks like that. He just shortens it to Beau, or Bobo, if you’re family.

The thing is, I think there’s a difference between “Oh, that’s clever,” and “WTF WHY IS YOUR NAME SO OBVIOUS?” Seriously, how many of you read American Gods? How many of you read American Gods and didn’t realize who Low-Key Lyesmith was until the very end of the book? How many of you listened to the audiobook and still didn’t clue in? How many of you are reading this and still don’t get it?

This is what I’m talking about.

I’ll give another example of naming conventions from my recent writing. I was tinkering with my short story/novelette/novella/whatever the heck it is when I noticed I had a tendency to give certain characters names that ended in “u” and then from that, a rule developed that in their fictional language, a name ending in “u” is seen as a bit more, hm, “masculine” (however you define that term) even though the person who has the name might be a woman or intersex.

Names mean things. I’ll react differently to a character named Orok gro-Malok than one named Schtolteheim Reinbach III (if you know where that name is from, you are either lucky, a very rich gamer, or you have very nice friends). Sometimes, authors will exploit these preconceived notions, as Lois McMaster Bujold did with Jokol Skullsplitter (it’s not what you think).

Also, can we please stop with the fucking apostrophes?

Look, I understand if you’re working with a language that uses punctuation to indicate sounds and such, but seriously, I thought this fad ended like, a decade ago. I tolerated it when I read Dragonriders of Pern because, well, it’s a classic, but seriously, no one is going to think you’re uncool for not using random apostrophes, quite the opposite, actually.

Another pet peeve of mine (YMMV though) is when names are difficult to pronounce. Wait, wait, before you all jump on me, there are definitely situations where people might have hard to say names, especially if your world is based on a real-life culture with some interesting ways of pronouncing certain letter combinations. I think that even here, authors can screw up royally. A recent example that I read was Kari Sperring’s Living with Ghosts (which I do not recommend), as I understand it, Gran Romagne is well, France, kind of, but the names! EVERY name looks like it has at least three syllables:

Gracielis

Thiercelin

Yvelliane

Iareth Yscoithi

Fortunately, the author included a handy guide to pronouncing the names, (the first three are pronounced like in French) but then you add in the nicknames (people who are familiar with each other tend to shorten names) and it just becomes a mess. Having a short name for a protagonist is great, in this respect, because protagonists are, well, protagonists.

There’s not much else that I find particularly rage-worthy. I was going to talk about honorifics/suffixes, but seeing as I’m actually using them in my own writing, that would come across as a little hypocritical. I will say, though, that if you want an example of a work that uses a lot of that sort of thing, check out Warrior and Witch by Marie Brennan. Holy shit, every witch in that book has a Japanese sounding name and a suffix (sixteen in total) that details their exact position in society. It’s nuts.

I feel better now, because I only use four.

Anyways, so yeah, names, they mean things.

Talking to Christians

If you know me from Facebook, you know that I like to talk about this Catholic forum that I occasionally post on. A while back, I started an “Ask a Pagan” thread, because I noticed there were a lot of misconceptions regarding what Paganism was and was not, and even though some part of me knew that starting such s thread was going to be an exercise in butting one’s head against a wall, I decided to do it anyways. One thread grew into a collection of threads.

The results are here for your amusement perusal.

You know, if I were to rate the experience overall, I would say it’s been a success (and by “success” I mean other members have told me that they see Pagans differently, or are interested in reading more about our traditions) and I’d totally do it again just for the lulz. I don’t think I represented my tradition as well as I should have (let’s face it, non-Pagans generally can’t tell a Wiccan from a Hellenic reconstructionist) but I’d still do it again.

That said, here is a sampling of questions I received, they range from the innocuous:

“What is Vanatru/Vanic Paganism?”

“Can you tell me about X tradition/practice?”

“Is your religion compatible with science?” (Yes, although science and religion are different projects, IMHO.)

“Have you read Harry Potter? Are there real spells in Harry Potter?” (Yes, I’ve read all the HP books. Some of the things in Harry Potter are based on real life myth and folklore, but the spells aren’t real. Also RAVENCLAW FTW!)

“What’s your take on Hallowe’en?” (YOU WILL PRY HALLOWE’EN FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS (which would be very seasonally appropriate)! Seriously, I love Hallowe’en!)

to the well-meaning but misinformed:

“Why is the Rede and the threefold law necessary?” (I’m not Wiccan, dammit!)

“Do you sacrifice animals?” (Very few do, most don’t….)

to the mildly confrontational:

“If Jesus didn’t exist, why did your gods allow a fake religion to wipe them off the map?”

“Your gods’ temples and scared places have crumbled to dust and are forgotten. Your gods’ priests and followers are but faint specks in history. Your gods have been reduced to comic book characters. Why would you worship such weak and flaccid beings?” (Yes, this is a direct quote. Yes, I am terribly amused by the suggestion that a being like Freyr is in any way “flaccid”.)

“Why be a pagan when you can be a monotheist (Christian, Jew, Muslim)?” (Seriously, who doesn’t know what a monotheist is these days? Secondly, because the world makes more sense when you think of it as being designed by committee. 🙂 )

“If enlightened by the truth of monotheism, especially the Truth that is Christ, are you prepared to leave your traditions and pagan beliefs (in this regard, are you open-mined enough to consider Christianity)?”

“Why worship creation when you can worship the creator?”

“What do these pagan ‘gods’ do at the name of Jesus?” “Are you repulsed by the cross?” (Yes, I swear this is a direct quote.)

1) I’m not a vampire
2) I suspect if I mentioned Jesus’ name any of my deities would be like “Yes? What of him?” and maybe they’d admit to sharing a drink with him on Sundays.

“Would you say you chose to be pagan because its fun? Christianity isn’t fun, it’s hard, hard work.”

Do you know what I did when I was Christian? I went to church on Sundays. Do you know what lots of Pagans do? “OMFGs is it Friday already?! I need to do my weekly special offering! (On top of the ones I do every day.) I should meditate, even though I don’t feel well. What’s that, god/dess o’ mine? You don’t want me to do something I really want to do because you want more quality time?” And you know what? I bet it’s even worse if you’re a priest/ess or a spirit worker, then you are actually expected to help people.

To the “that’s not a question” questions…..

“Pagans worship things like goat heads….” (If I’m going to worship a goat, I’d worship the whole goat, thank you. All hail the mighty goat, eater of everything!)

“I will pray for you.”

“Will someone cleanse this demonic nonsense from this site?” (OH NOEZ THINK OF THE CHILDREN!)

“Pagans aren’t really Pagans because they don’t expose children/fear their deities enough/do things exactly the way that their ancestors did.”

“Doctrine of demons. Lucifer is your god even if you think all sorts of “technical” terminology and differentiation between one demonic teaching and the other is somehow significant.

There is no more importance in your words other than – it is of the devil. The poor souls, oppressed, obssessed and possessed by demons – are full of this dribble.” (Another direct quote–can you feel the Christian love?)

There are a bunch more I could list, but those are some of my favourites.

When Will It Stop?

And by “it” I mean “Doreen Virtue’s fluffy New Age mega-publishing machine”.  Seriously, it seems like she can’t go a week without churning out a new product.

Okay, okay, I admit it, I actually own one of her books (Messages From Your Angels) and two of her oracle card decks (the Goddess Guidance Oracle and the Angel Tarot) so, yes, when it comes to mindless consumption of her candyfloss in card form, I’m guilty as charged, but for fuck’s sake, look at this latest product on Amazon.

Seriously Ms. Virtue? Mermaids again? Did you forget you already pandered to those people a few years ago? Oh, sorry, I keep forgetting it’s all about the bottom line. Silly me, thinking spirituality should be something more than “buy these products to be the most spiritual spiritual person ever!” Not even Mary is immune to the New Age fluff machine.

Okay, back to the mermaid book. In all seriousness, if I had the money to spend on crap, I’d love to buy a copy and review it, because it’s a gold mine for snark, just look at this quote:

Different varieties [of merpeople] are called:

  • Merangels – These mermaids and mermen have a celestial connection, and are compelled to help save the ocean and the inhabitants.
  • Merfairies – Mermaids and mermen who guard bodies of freshwater and their inhabitants, Merfairies are thinner and more petite than Merangels.

(from the introduction)

Um, yeah, regular angels, fairies, and mermaids aren’t enough, now it’s merangels and merfairies–just add water! Seriously, does anyone actually believe in this stuff? (Well, actually, if you read my previous post, I did once, but that was when I was young and stupid, now I’m older….and only occasionally stupid.)

The only other reason I’d be tempted to buy this book (besides the snark factor) would be for the art–most of which is free online anyways, and the rest are pictures of beautiful women in those fake mermaid tails, but I could just as well buy a nice book of mermaid art without all the New Age bullshit and view that as a better investment.

BTW, if any of you want me to review something I already have, here’s a link to my collection of books on LibraryThing. Not every book I own is up there, though, so if you want to see a review of something, ask me if I have it. On my ereader alone, I’m currently reading through the entirety of Amelia Atwater-Roads Shapeshifters series (when did your writing become so terrible, Ms. Atwater-Rhodes?), the first book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series (yes, I’ve heard all about what happens after book nine), and Son in Sorrow, the sequel to Lovers and Beloveds, which I reviewed in a previous post. I also have a selection of free kindle books, Ellen Kushner’s Privilege of the Sword and Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Chronicles (which I WILL finish) so let me know if you want me to review something.

Badass Decay in the Dante Valentine Series

I love these books. I hate these books.

I don’t think another series has ever left me so conflicted. No other series has made me want to reach in and slap the shit out of both the protagonist and her love interest so hard and so often….

….and yet, I still recommend them to everyone I see. I have no idea what the Hel is wrong with me. Do I recommend them because I think they’re good, or do I recommend them in the hope that someone will feel the same way I felt upon reading the last line of the last novel? (Disappointed, angry, and wanting to smack Danny upside the head screaming “WTF HAPPENED TO YOU?!”)

You see, the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow is probably one of the most epic cases of Badass Decay ever written.

The usual caveat: There will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the entire series, so if anyone’s thinking of reading these books (link to the omnibus on Amazon here, for my friends who have a Kobo, it’s also on their site, and most likely at any major bookstores) I’ll mark off where the spoilers start so you can close your browser and come back when you’ve had enough of reading them. This post is going to be long, so I’m going to cut it here and interested parties can read the whole thing.

Read More »

UPG vs. BS

I was going to post a response of sorts to one of my co-religionist’s post on “Pagans and Purity”  (everyone who reads this blog for Vanir-related stuff should follow Wane Wyrds, seriously, Cena is awesome) but she just posted something interesting on Facebook and I can’t not respond to it.

The link Cena posted was to this post. To be honest, I didn’t find the majority of this post to be problematic–until I saw this at the bottom of the second last paragraph:

“Frey will work with men or women, so long as the latter are masculine, willing to shapeshift to male astrally before he arrives.”

Pardon me, but LOL WUT?

So Freyr only works with “masculine” women? What about “feminine” men? Does his wife know about this? You know, Gerda? The woman he gave up his sword for? Are those the actions of a He-Man Woman Hater? I mean, if he prefers men, that’s cool, there’s no problem with that, but Freyr, dude, the closet is not a good place for you, man!

Okay, seriously now. I know what some of you will say: “But it’s my UPG! WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING IT?!” You have the right to say whatever UPG comes to mind, I have the right to evaluate that UPG and call it bullshit. The fact that “me and my friends have found this to be true” does NOT make it the One Truth, nor is it an excuse to check your critical thinking skills at the door.

I have “feelings” about certain deities, and people have called these “feelings” BS. You know what, if I put something out on the interwebs, some people will read it, and they will comment and say “This is bullshit, Gef. Where did you get this idea?”

It doesn’t matter if they’re a well-known author who says “Skadi doesn’t deal with disabled people” (yes, I have seen those exact words) or someone who says “My UPG says the Aesir are a bunch of bullies” or “Loki gave me an astral pregnancy,” I’m still going to evaluate that UPG and measure it against my own experiences, and sometimes our UPG will match, and other times I (or the other party) will say “The Hel are you smoking?”

And that’s okay.

Addendum: The examples I’ve quoted are all 100% real UPG that people have posted on the interwebs. I’m not going to name names, I have a feeling some of you know exactly who said these things in each case. Please, if you choose to comment (I love comments), don’t name names.