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Friday, December 26, 2014

Oiche Sidhe - a poem

There is poetry in this madness
Grief and delight intertwined
Standing between worlds
Shadowed and bright, undefined
A whirlwind of hope and
Destruction on the air, gleaming
They are calling, "Come away,
Away, beyond mortal dreaming,
Beyond cares and love,
Beyond boundaries unspoken.
Into endless night, into magic,
Into a timeless time, unbroken"
Turning and twisting,
Following a trackless path
Dancing and weeping
Overcome by joy and wrath
Ecstasy consumes like fire
Transforms, transmutes at the core
And then, wrenching, tearing,
Back to mortal earth once more


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yule 2014

 I've mentioned before in other December blogs that I celebrate Yule as a Heathen holiday with 12 days of celebration. This year is proving quite challenging and hectic, but since editing the new novel has my blogging limited I thought I'd touch on how yule is going.
   We began our celebration this year on Sunday the 21, the day of the official solstice, by waking up to a gift exchange. 
Santa, you see, comes to our house on the solstice (it helps thin out his schedule for his busier night). We woke this year to falling snow*. The kids decided to get up extremely early so the adults were sustained by coffee. And bacon. A good time was had by all, and that afternoon we made gingerbread cookies. Dinner was a feast of ham and orange colored vegetables, some of which were offered to the house spirits. Later we did a small ritual in honor of some of the wights and held a vigil for the returning sun.
    Monday the 22nd the clouds  cleared briefly in the morning and the new sun shone down bright and glorious before the cloud cover closed back in. On that day we honored Frau Sonne with a small ritual and offerings in praise of her return. We lit our Yule log and let the candles burn out.

   Today, the third day of Yule, we choose to honor the Wilde Jagd (Wild Hunt) which rides this time of year. It is believed that the Hunt rides especially when storm winds blow and tonight my area is getting a Nor'easter - so truly the Wild Hunt is riding tonight here. Offerings will be made tonight that they pass us by unharmed. 
   Tomorrow we will honor our house spirit with an offering of porridge and butter. We also have a family tradition with the children of watching a movie (Polar Express) and having popcorn and hot chocolate and the house spirit will receive a portion of everything. 
  On the 25th we celebrate Mutternacht, Mother Night, by honoring Frija and the Idises. Most Heathens today celebrate Mother Night on the eve of the solstice, but we use Bede's reckoning as given here:

Incipiebant autem annum ab octavo Calendarum Januariarum die, ubi nunc natale Domini celebramus. Et ipsam noctem nunc nobis sacrosanctam, tunc gentili vocabulo Modranicht, id est, matrum noctem appellabant: ob causam et suspicamur ceremoniarum, quas in ea pervigiles agebant. 
(Moreover at the beginning of the year by the 8th calendar day of January**, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. That night which we hold sacred, they used to call by the Gentile*** word Modranicht, that is, Mother's Night, we suspect because of their ceremonies, as in accordance they kept vigils)
So we celebrate Mutternacht on December 25th by honoring and offering to the "mothers".
    On December 26th we honor the spirits of the land. We also cleanse and sain our property, first by walking the boundary with fire and then by scattering a small amount of salt. This is also the anniversary of our kindred's founding in 2006 so we usually get together to celebrate Yule as group on this day, although this year due to scheduling we are meeting on the 28th instead.
   On December 27th we honor our ancestors with offerings and stories. A white candle is lit for them.
  On December 28th we honor Oski - Wodan as the Wish-giver. Small gifts are exchanged and offerings are made to him, and a small ritual is done. Omens are taken for the year to come.
   On December 29th we honor Frau Holda as the leader of the Wild Hunt, with Wodan, and as the protector of children's spirits.
   On December 30th we honor the Hidden Folk, specifically the perchten and huldufolk who travel with Perchta and Frau Holda.
   On December 31st we honor Berchta. Offerings of fish and porridge are left out. We ask her for her blessing in the coming year, especially for good health, and we thank her fo rall her blessings in the year that is past.
   This may seem like a lot but it really isn't. It's just a little each day and much of it is really fun, especially because of the children. The 12 days are hectic, but they go by quickly and everyone enjoys them.

* Frau Holle shaking her blankets out! A good omen in my opinion
** by the Julian calendar the 8th day of January would have shifted back on the Gregorian calendar to roughly December 25th, which is why Bede refers to it as the night they celebrate the birth of Jesus.
*** Gentile is often translated here as Heathen or Pagan but the actual word given is gentili so I have preserved the closer meaning.

Reference
Giles, J (1843). The Complete Works of the Venerable Bede

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

translating the untranslated part 4 - Lugh's battle incitement

  This is my fourth installment of translating often untranslated material from the Cath Maige Tuired and I'd like to start with a little more background on the CMT itself. I recently read the transcript of an utterly fascinating lecture by John Carey called "A London Library, An Irish Manuscript, A British Myth? The Wanderings of 'The Battle of Moytirra'" in which Carey traces the history of the only extant manuscript containing this vital Irish myth. One of the most important points in Carey's lecture for the purposes of my translation project is that the manuscript for the CMT is believed by scholars to have been written by a younger scribe and one who was fond of intentionally obscuring his writing with:
"willfully eccentric orthography in which certain aspects of Old Irish, together with other usages which seem to be the fruits of pure fantasy, are deployed without rhyme or reason to produce a kind of Irish which looks like nothing else on earth". (Carey, 2014, p 8).
What this means in practical terms is that the Irish of the CMT is in many ways a puzzle. There are points were it is difficult to be sure what a word is supposed to be and others were it is entirely supposition. The way I approach this is to use context to help suss out the most logical guesses with words that aren't obvious. Keep in mind though that expert linguists don't agree on what some of these words are so my translations should be understood as educated guesses. 
   For this fourth attempt I am tackling Lugh's incitement of the army of the Tuatha De Danann before the battle with the Fomorians. Normally translations of this piece end after saying he circled the army. 
From Grey's Irish Texts Edition of the Cath Maige Tuired:
     "Conid and rocan Lug an cétal-so síos, for lethcois ocus letsúil timchel fer n-Erenn. 'Arotroi* cat comartan! Isin cathirgal robris comlondo forslech-slúaig silsiter ria sluagaib siobrai iath fer fomnai. Cuifecithai fir gen rogam lentor gala. Fordomaisit, fordomcloisid, forandechraiged, firduib: becc find nomtam (nointam), Fó! Fó! Fé! Fé! Clé**! Amainsi! Neofitman-n ier nelscoth- trie trencerdaib druag. Nimcredbod catha fri cricha; nesit- mede midege fornemairces forlúachoir loisces martaltsuides martorainn trogais. Incomairsid fri cech naie, go comair Ogma sachu go comair nem ocus talom, go comair grioan ocus esqu. Dremniadh mo drem-sie duib. Mo sluag so sluag mor murnech mochtsailech bruithe nertirech rogenoir et- dacri ataforroi cath comortai. Aotrai.'" (Grey, 1983)

So that upon his cloak Lugh sang this to intervene, on one foot and one eye, encompassing the men of Ireland. "Fight* a slaughterous battle! There is fierce battle, a contentious, cutting army contending before armies of phantoms, men of the land beware. Aligning to truth without choice, following furies. Bursting forth, overthrowing, dividing, black truth: little white death-ring, Hale! Hale! Woe! Woe! Sinister**! Fierceness! A sanctified omen after cloud-shadows our fame will be spread through armies by triple skilled Druids. I am not reduced by battles at borders: wounding, matched, slender-speared, sky ravaging, deadly brilliance, burning, greatly subduing them, greatly thundering, the sun rises. Asking each of them, in the presence of Ogma and also in the presence of sky and earth, in the presence of sun and moon. A band of warriors is my company for you. My army is a great army, ramparts here, fleet-footed, seething, strong-guarding, choosing, may we fight a slaughterous battle! Fight!"



* this is almost always translated as "arise" under the assumption it's an irregular form of atraig "to arise" however I personally feel that its a variation of airgal "to
fight, do battle; overcome". The third possibility is at-roí "to fail" but that is difficult to see in context

   
** also may mean left

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Valuing Life

  There has been a trend in American society that is sending a message - a disturbing message - that some lives are more valuable than others. That some people matter more. I could point to specific cases but really there are so many examples its hard to choose which ones to include and which ones to ignore. And I don't want this to become a debate about the details, the minutia, of one example. Because I'm not talking about just one thing here. I'm talking about all of it. Black men and children killed, choked to death, shot, because of the perceived threat they represented. Woman viciously attacked for not smiling back or giving their number to someone. Gay and trans people killed for openly existing. Over and over the message goes out that some lives matter less than others, some lives are disposable.
   This must stop.
    We as a society must stop this. We must stop perpetuating this idea that color, gender, sexual identity, and yes nationality and language, effect the value of a person. We must each come to a place where we understand that beneath these superficial difference - as beautiful as those differences are in creating the diversity of our world - beneath those differences we are all the same. We all want to be happy, to feel safe, to be successful. We all laugh and cry the same. We are all born and we all die. We all bleed.
     I was raised on original Star Trek, where you it didn't matter if you were African, Japanese, Russian, Scottish, or even Vulcan - a person's value wasn't about the color of their skin, or where they were from, or what language they spoke. We need more of that in the world today, more understanding that a person's value lies in the person, not the external details. Even the antagonists in Star Trek were nuanced and presented as people. Can we as a modern society really not do as well in reality as a television show from the 1960's at accepting diversity?
    We all matter, no matter what color, or ethnicity, or nationality, or language, or gender, or sexual identity. Black lives matter. Women's lives matter. LGBT lives matter. Every life matters. 
   No one should die because someone else sees them as a "what" instead of a "who". 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Giveaway - Pagan Portals the Morrigan

Happy thanksgiving everyone. I'm doing a book giveaway for a signed copy of my new book Pagan Portals: the Morrigan when it's released next month. If you are interested you can enter here:






Goodreads Book Giveaway


Pagan Portals the Morrigan by Morgan Daimler

Pagan Portals the Morrigan

by Morgan Daimler


Giveaway ends December 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

more NaNo

 I am once again doing National Novel Writing Month this year and attempting to write the third novel in my trilogy. I may have been a smidge ambitious this time since I only just finished the second one and am, in all honesty, a bit burned out. However I'm soldiering on to get the first draft done. In the 25 days of NaNo I've written a bit over 54,000 words towards what I expect to be between 100 - 120,000 when its done. So I'm about halfway there. It's been taking a lot of my attention though and as with last November the blog is suffering a bit.
  As usual with my novel writing I've been posting little word count & blurbs on Facebook as I write so I'd like to share them here for anyone who might be interested.
this is the synopsis for the third book from the NaNo site:
There is far more going on in the small town of Ashwood than anyone realizes, and Allie Mccarthy, like the town itself, is caught between mortal earth and Fairy, with treachery on both sides. Allie is struggling to pick up the pieces as the police investigation into a series of ritual killings contniues to wreak havoc in her life. She has lost one friend to a serial killer and seen another shot trying to protect her as the people behind the rituals work to get her out of the way. Meanwhile her own empathic gift - which may be the key to stopping the killings - is controlling her more than she controls it. In seeking training for her gift Allie may be forced to accept that defining good and evil isn't as simple as she wants it to be. Facing betrayal at the deepest level and with her own life hanging in the balance, this time Allie has to be sure that the conspiracies are rooted out and stopped, once and for all. No matter what the cost. 

Book 3

8,659 words - book 3 begins, picking up the pieces where the last book left off. My protagonist is still facing more than one challenge but she's realizing that the only person who ultimately may be able to save her is herself.

11,295 words - my protagonist is trying to convince the human and elven police to work together, because she's sure that's the only way to figure out what's really going on. Will the joint task force be re-formed?
Meanwhile there's still a conspiracy afoot, a killer who has gone entirely off the rails, and trouble from the past that my protagonist definitely won't see coming.

17, 476 words - nothing complicates a love triangle like a marriage proposal from one person and the other taking a bullet for the one he loves. My protagonist's love life is starting to look like Celtic knot work, despite her best efforts to untangle it (and no this isn't that kind of story exactly, that's just how messy life can be sometimes).
Meanwhile we have part of a plot uncovered - and gremlins, oh my! - and an antagonist who may be willing to do anything to protect someone she cares about, even if that means hurting the person herself.

21,144 words - negotiating with elves, take two. Has my protagonist learned anything from the results of the first attempt? Lets hope so because this time the consequences will be very personal....

24,041 words - the killer has slipped his leash and is killing now for fun as much as for a purpose, making him far more dangerous. The bodies are piling up, but can the re-formed joint task force recognize the clues when they find them?

32,200 words - my protagonist is trying to get her out of control ability under control with some training from a very interesting teacher (the great aunt of our entertaining ceremonial magician). But sometimes learning control means accepting things about yourself that you really don't like...

40,100 words - my protagonist has dodged a dagger from an unexpected source, and our intrepid kelpie has ridden to her rescue. Unfortunately she may now prove just as useful to those she trusts as bait to catch those lurking in the shadows as she does as a hound tracking the killer...

43,148 words - our killer has struck again, taking one life and ravaging another, but this time the victim fought back and thanks to some timely intervention lived to tell the tale. This could be the essential break in the case if my protagonist can stay strong...or it could trigger my protagonist's own past demons to come back and haunt her....

51,388 words - everyone has their limits. Some people hit those limits and break against them. Some people hit them and get angry enough to start fighting back.

My protagonist is done with running and letting other people get hurt for her. She's ready to start fighting back now.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

more translation

I'm a bit busy but I don't want to not blog at all, so here's a tidbit of translation, Irish courtesy of Hennessey's The Ancient Irish Goddess of War, translation my own.

Fuil os chind ag eigmigh
Caillech lom, luath ag leimnig
Os eannaib a narm sa sciath
Is i in Morrigu mongliath
- Cath Magh Rath

Bloody over his head, fighting, crying out
A naked hag, swiftly leaping
Over the edges of their armor and shields
She is the grey-haired Morrigu

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"She Rises" A Poem to the Morrigan

she rises, in the dawn, in the darkness, in our hearts
she rises like dark birds taking flight in a whir if wings
she rises from shadow and dream and memory
her name on our lips, dripping sweet like honey
her name, flying on the wind like leaves, dancing
her name, a primal scream, tearing our hearts, echoing
the Morrigan has always been with us, inciting, inspiring
the Morrigan moves with us now, returning, eternal,
the Morrigan calls us to her, singing, shrieking, as she rises...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Translating the Untranslated 3 - Inciting Kings


  My third attempt at translating a normally untranslated portion of the Cath Maige Tuired: this excerpt occurs during the battle itself when the Morrigan appears to incite the Tuatha De Danann to win the battle. The Irish text is from Gray's 1983 version from the Irish Texts Society. The English translation is my own, with the usual caveat that I am not fluent but am offering my best understanding of the material. Usually it ends after "Kings, arise to battle...."


  Tánic in Morrigan ingen Ernmusa anduidhe ocus boi oc nertad Túath nDéa co fertois an cath co dúr ocus co dicrai. Conid ann rocachain in laíd-se sis: "Afraigid rig don cath! Rucat gruaide aisnethir rossa ronat feola, fennát enech, ethát catha -rruba* segatar ratha radatar fleda fechatar catha, canát natha, noat druith denait cuaird cuimnit. Arca alat side sennat deda tennat braigit blathnuight tufer cluinethar eghme ailit cuaird cathit lochtai lúet ethair snaat arma scothait sronai. Atci cach rogenair ruadcath dergbandach dremand fiachlergai foeburlai. Fri uab rusmeb renanrmársrotaib sinne fri fur foab líni Fomóire i margnaich incanaigh copraich aigid dergbandaib dam aimcritaighid connaechta sameth donncuridh ibur ferurib fristongarar."

 Next the Morrigan daughter of Ernmas came, and urged the Tuatha Dé Danann** to give battle stubbornly and savagely. So that in that place she  chanted her poem: "Arise, kings to battle here! Seizing honor, speaking battle-spells, destroying flesh, flaying, snaring, seizing battle ---*, seeking out forts, giving out a death feast, fighting battles, singing poems, proclaiming druids collect tribute around in memory. Bodies wounded in a rushing assault, pursuing, exhausting, breaking, prisoners taken, destruction blooms, hearing screams, fostering armies battle, occupants moving, a boat sails, arsenal cuts off noses. I see the birth of every bloody battle, red-wombed, fierce, obligatory-battlefield, enraged. Against the point of a sword, reddened shame, without-great-battlements, preparing towards them, proclaiming a line of battle Fomorians in the chanted margins, helpfully impels a reddened vigorous champion, shaking hound-killing warriors together, bloody beating, ancient warband towards their doom."

* beginning of word is missing in manuscript
** Túath nDéa literally "People of the Gods" or "People of the Goddess"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

tolerance and acceptance

  Last weekend I attended the Changing Times, Changing Worlds conference, an annual regional conference on metaphysics in the northeast United States. I've done workshops at the conference 4 out of the 5 years its run and I really enjoy attending. This year was no exception, with many good workshops and panels as well as excellent conversations with both attendees and other presenters.

   One of the most interesting panels I saw was "When is it okay to tell someone they are wrong?". The five panelists discussed various scenarios within the pagan community where someone was either publicly lying or falsely claiming things, such as experience or titles, and how they might each deal with the situation. I was surprised by the number of responses that advocated kind private interventions and mentoring to handle people making such claims. There was also a strong emphasis on accepting that wrong didn't include different, and that we as a community needed to be more open and accepting of varieties within traditions and practices. In other words there is no one correct Wicca, no one true witchcraft, no exact Reconstruction, so it is foolish to have so-called witch wars over differences in approach and method. I found that while I didn't agree entirely with everything that was said I did walk away with a lot to consider.
   One of the nuances that I think is consistently missed in the wider community is the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance is simply being able to allow or endure the existence of something, including things we don't like and things we disagree with. I can tolerate a lot within the community because I do not expect everyone to practice, believe, and act the way I do. Acceptance on the other hand is agreeing that something is good or suitable. There are many, many things in the pagan community that I do not particularly accept. I do not accept them as either good or suitable beliefs or practices and given a chance I'll usually expound on why. However - and herein lies the crux - I can tolerate what I do not accept. More importantly I should and must tolerate what I don't accept because it is pure ego to think that every single pagan - or even every Irish recon - would or should think and do exactly as I think and do. And I fully expect others to tolerate my practices and beliefs which they do not accept.
   So then, if I am tolerating that which I don't accept when is it okay to tell someone they are wrong? Well, my short answer is usually always, at least in the sense that I think we should all be open to questioning and criticism of what we do. I don't see anything wrong with telling someone I disagree with them, nor I do think that voicing disagreement must always be condemnation or attack. It is entirely possible to say "I don't agree with doing that" in a civil manner.
     I do also think that as a wider community we do need to be willing to speak up about the things that matter, the big things like abuse and fraud, without feeling constrained by a false propriety. This idea that we don't want to rock the boat or be confrontational seems to be so misapplied to me, when we can have huge intergroup issues over someone blowing candles out instead of snuffing them but no one wants to accuse another person of an actual serious crime when they should. That kind of behavior we should never tolerate, and yet we do while simultaneously refusing to accept minor theological differences between traditions that shouldn't even be a concern. I mean why should I care that a group I don't belong to does something I find silly or pointless, or even offensive? Whereas I should obviously care if another group is hurting children or stealing money from people.
    When should we tell other people they are wrong? When they are publicly putting something out that opens up a discussion; when they are making statements of fact; when they are speaking as any kind of authority - then I think we should speak if what is being said is objectively wrong. When it is a question of personal belief and ideas, then it is less telling someone they are wrong and more about engaging in conversations and dialogue and expressing an alternate viewpoint. I'm sure there are many valid reasons for silence as well, especially when its wiser or more strategic not to speak, but I think there is too much of that in many areas. We argue over inconsequential things, but we stay silent over what really matters.
   Accept what you agree with; tolerate what does no harm and doesn't affect you; speak your truth

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dating the Holidays

    Probably the single most consistent debate you can count on seeing in the Celtic Pagan community is about the dating of the four Fire Festivals. Like all such debates each side tends to hold its own view quite passionately. There are three main arguments: the dates of the celebrations were set astronomically; the dates were set using a calendar; the dates were based on agricultural signs. Each side has merit, but the truth is there is not enough solid evidence to ever know with certainty how the ancients timed their celebrations. 
    The astrology argument is based on setting the dates exactly midway between the solstices and equinoxes. This usually puts them roughly six weeks after the previous holiday and six weeks before the next one. In some cases people suggest using a specific marker such as a constellation being at a certain point in the sky or a sign of the zodiac at a certain degree. The ancient stone circles and mounds which are aligned with certain times are also used, so that when the light of the sun hits a certain point or illuminates the interior of the mound it would indicate that the holiday should be celebrated. This argument naturally hinges on two premises: that the ancients celebrated the solar holidays as well, and that they were aware of the alignments of the ancient neolithic monuments. There is also a related argument that uses lunar dating, based from what I have seen on the second full moon after the solar event*.
    The calendar argument dates the celebration on the first day of the respective months they occur on: February, May, August, and November. We have references in the mythology dating back to the 11th century of Lughnasa, Bealtaine, and Samhain being on the 'kalends' (first day) of those months and we know historically they were celebrated on those days in folk practice. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that the calendar system switched from the Julian to the Gregorian and when that occurred the dates shifted. When the calendar shift occurred in the UK in 1752 it moved everything back 11 days, meaning what was the first of November is now the 12th. Even a hundred years ago in several areas people were still celebrating Imbolc and Lughnasa in particular on the 12th of February and August respectively because they were using the old dating. What this means in practice is that when we see older references to the days being celebrated on the first we need to understand that they are equivalent for us today to the 12th of that same month. A Celtic Reconstructionist who wanted to use the calendar dates could, I think, choose to either go by the first of the month still or use the older dating and celebrate on the 12th. 
   The final method of dating the celebration of the holiday is based on observation of agricultural markers and the idea that each holiday is agrarian at heart and depends on certain conditions being met. Imbolc is a celebration of the return of fresh milk and would be celebrated when the lambs were born or the sheep came into milk. Bealtaine is the beginning of summer, a time when the herds are moved to summer pastures, and would have been celebrated when the people were confident winter had passed; this is often said to be marked by the blooming of the Hawthorn and indeed many Bealtaine traditions require flowers. Lughnasa was the beginning of the harvest - nothing could be harvested before the proper time by longstanding tradition - and of the harvest fairs, and would have been celebrated when the grain crops were ready to be gathered. Samhain was the beginning of winter, when the herds were brought back in from the summer pastures and extra stock was butchered. It also marked the end of the harvest and gathering anything after Samhain was prohibited as everything left belonged to the daoine sidhe. Many people say that Samhain would have been celebrated after the first hard frost; there is a certain logic to this as frost would ruin any crops left in the fields**.  This method of dating is the least rigid and most changeable of the three, and also can prove difficult for people who are far removed from the farming cycle.
   Each of these approaches has merit, and each has problems. No one is a perfect solution or can be proven beyond question to be the historical method. It is up to individuals to decide which method they prefer and learn how best to apply it within their own practice. 


*there may well be variations of this
**different crops have various tolerances to frost, and this is somewhat dependent on the severity and length of the frost as well, however it seems safe to say that our ancestors would be highly motivated to get all the crops in by the time they started seeing frost and would consider frost a sign of the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Celebrating Samhain with a Complex Child

Canann Badb. 
feannóg guth
Garbh agus amh. 
Canann Badb.
Tagann an gheimhridh 
i sioc agus scáth.
Canann Badb

"Badb speaks
a crow's voice
rough and raw
Badb speaks
winter arrives
in frost and shadow
Badb speaks"

I wrote the above poem this morning as I listened to a crow calling to me, perched on a tree outside my window. Today is the beginning of my three day celebration of Samhain, and tonight belongs especially to the daoine maith, the Good People. I've written several times over the years about how my family celebrates Samhain and about the history of the holiday so today I decided I want to tackle a more personal topic, that is celebrating this holiday with a child who has complex medical issues.
  One of the walls I often crash against in the wider pagan community is the inaccessibility of events and rituals for children who have issues, from autism spectrum disorders to physical mobility issues, that require accommodation. We are a community that prides itself on inclusivity, and yet I often see a lack of it towards children in general and specifically towards children who have behavioral or physical challenges. The biggest argument against it seems to be that something important will be lost if we change what we are doing to make it easier for children with different needs to attend. I disagree, and below I will explain how I have modified my own practice to accommodate my daughter. 
     What frustrates me is that it doesn't have to be this way - while it does require compromise and reworking it is not impossible to accommodate families that need it. And I will never believe the Gods, ancestors or spirits are offended by the actions or needs of a child who is doing their best in the moment and only wants to be part of a spiritual celebration. 
   So, to begin with: food. feasting is a big part of most reconstructionist faiths as well as other pagan religions. Allergies are things both adults and children deal with and should not ever be something that is treated lightly. Just because peanuts are your favorite treat doesn't mean it will kill you to skip bringing them to a group celebration, and being around them might just kill someone else. And that's not hyperbole. Let me fill you in on something all parents know - kids don't care about whether eating something will make them sick, if it tastes good they will eat it anyway. My daughter for many years was not allowed to eat gluten, soy, or dairy because of a congenital immune deficiency disorder which made her digestive system very touchy, and chocolate was something she could only have in very small amounts. That never stopped her from overeating things she shouldn't have when she had a chance with predictable results . Kids with allergies are not going to police themselves, especially younger ones, and I get really irritated when adults complain about how unfair it is that they have to skip out on a food they like or are complain about being expected to cater to someone else's allergies. On a related side note, its super frustrating when there is only dish at a pot luck or similar event that a child can eat and everyone else is taking huge servings of it, not leaving enough for that child to eat very much. Shouldn't this be common courtesy? 
   Accessibility. No one ever thinks of this one, and honestly I can only imagine the frustration of parents with children in wheel chairs who are faced with hikes or trips over uneven ground. My daughter is ambulatory but due to a heart condition she tires easily and doesn't have the stamina for long walks, never mind hikes. I can't tell you how often I end up carrying her (luckily even at 6 she's very small, so carrying her is still an option). When we trick or treat on Halloween we plan carefully so that she isn't exhausted by the end. It shouldn't be that difficult to find a suitable site that is easy for people with mobility issues to access. At the Morrigan Retreat this past June we had to change our ritual location to accommodate such a situation and there was no complaining about it ruining things or blaming people for putting everyone else out. We came together as a community and made it work for everyone, once we knew there was an issue. I have a friend who is a sign language interpreter and we have discussed several times the huge challenge that deaf pagans face in trying to find even basic accommodations at rituals and workshops. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not public ceremonies are designed, almost exclusively, for people with 5 functional senses, full mobility, and normal stamina. We really need to start asking ourselves where this leaves all the people who don't have all of those things. Is it that difficult to make what we do truly open to everyone?*
  Finally behavioral issues; this is the one that has caused me to stop bringing my children to most events, in all honesty. I'm not talking here about kids who are destructive or violent and really shouldn't be expected to handle being in a ritual setting without disaster ensuing. I'm talking about kids who can't act their age or who can't focus or stay quiet or still through a ceremony. People have expectations for the behavior of children at certain ages and when your child isn't conforming to that not only is the child assumed to lack discipline but the parent is criticized for being too lenient. And in my experience even explaining that the child in question has a medical diagnoses makes no difference. People come to a spiritual gathering or ritual expecting a moving experience and they do not in any way want to deal with a child who can't be still or quiet. My daughter has a sensory processing disorder that means she is sensory seeking (she touches everything) and also that loud noises and crowds upset her. She has been in occupational therapy since she was a toddler and behavioral therapy since first grade, but these are not things that will ever go away, they are part of who she is. When she was small people were pretty tolerant of her quirky behavior, but as she has gotten older the tolerance has largely evaporated, especially with people who don't know her. I find it unfair to put that expectation of perfect behavior on any child but especially those that have extra challenges with conforming to behavioral expectations. This one is a double edged sword though because I have also had problems with judgment from people (not necessarily at pagan events, but in general) when I have to leave early because my daughter has hit her limit and is on the verge of a sensory meltdown. Children and parents who deal these issues shouldn't feel unwelcome. 
    As a reconstructionist I do not believe this is how our ancestors would have reacted to people who had different needs, not when community was the center of celebration. Babies cry, women need to nurse during rituals (see point one), children fuss, kids need to use the bathroom at inopportune times, and so on. It seems natural that children who have behavioral issues would also be understood as part of the community and while - obviously - extreme disruptions can't be allowed minor disturbances and less than perfect behavior would be tolerated. The community would find ways to make sure everyone possible attended ceremonies, I think. And while food issues may be a more modern thing I know our ancestors made sure everyone, even the poor and beggars, had something to eat on ritual days. 
   

  So, how do we celebrate with my youngest daughter? We start by talking a lot ahead of time about the holiday, because she is very into routine and unexpected things can throw her off. On the first day of Samhain we go trick or treating and when we get home we leave out an offering for the Daoine Eile. The children each choose something to offer from the candy they have gotten. On the second night we honor the Gods by lighting a fire in my largest cauldron. Because my daughter is phobic of the dark we do not do turn out all the lights, although I used to do so before to mimic the ceremony at Tlachtga. I tell the children stories of different events that have occurred in myth on Samhain and often we end up talking more generally about different Tuatha De Danann that interest them. We have a ritual to an Morrigan and an Daghda and make offerings to them, and divination is done for the year to come. Sometimes my youngest daughter stays for the whole ritual, sometimes she doesn't. On the third day we honor our ancestors. An extra place is set at the table and water and food are set out at dinner. We light white candles on our ancestor altar and we tell stories about our beloved dead. My youngest daughter struggles with expressing her emotions so she enjoys the stories of the older dead who she never knew but will usually leave when we talk about the more recent dead. We offer coffee on the altar and leave out something on the doorstep for the wandering dead.
   And that's it. The biggest accommodations we make for my daughter are letting her come and go as she pleases during ceremonies, and letting her sit or play during the ceremonies if she's having trouble focusing, and making sure nothing is too dark or too loud. We also keep each focused ceremony short and to the point because that's easier for her to handle. It's not that hard and while it has changed how I conduct rituals and the flow of my ceremonies I do not in any way feel that I've lost any substance. In a situation where I feel compelled to do something really complex or drawn out I do it by myself but honestly that's very rare. My religion is part of the legacy I want to pass on to my children - all my children - and its important to me that she be and feel included. 


*I do acknowledge that the issue of having an interpreter available is complicated because it is not a common enough skill. Maybe we should all try to learn a little sign language to bridge the gap. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Translating the Untranslated part 2 - the Morrigan's prophecy


So here's another translation from Old Irish, this one is the Morrigan's prophecy from the Cath Maige Tuired. The Old Irish text is from Gray. The English is my own, as always with the caveat that I am not fluent but am offering my own understanding of the material based on the way I personally translate it.


Fáistine leis an Mórrígu

Síth co nem.
Nem co doman.
Doman fo nim,
nert hi cach,
an forlann,
lan do mil,
míd co saith.
Sam hi ngam,
gai for sciath,
sciath for durnd.
Dunad lonngarg;
longait- tromfóid
fod di uí
ross forbiur benna
abu airbe imetha.
Mess for crannaib
craob do scís
scís do áss
saith do mac
mac for muin,
muin tairb
tarb di arccoin
odhb do crann
crann do ten.
Tene a nn-ail.
Ail a n-úir
uích a mbuaib
boinn a mbru.
Brú lafefaid
ossghlas iaer errach,
foghamar forasit etha.
Iall do tír
tír co trachd lefeabrea.
Bídruad rossaib síraib rithmár,
'Nach scel laut?'
Sith co nem
bidsirnae.


Prophecy of the Morrigan

Peace to sky.
Sky to earth.
Earth below sky,
strength in each one,
a cup overfull,
filled with honey,
sufficiency of renown.
Summer in winter,
spears supported by warriors,*
warriors supported by forts.
Forts fiercely strong;
banished are sad outcries
land of sheep
healthy under antler-points
destructive battle cries held back.
Crops [masts] on trees
a branch resting
resting with produce
sufficiency of sons
a son under patronage
on the neck of a bull
a bull of magical poetry
knots in trees
trees for fire.
Fire when wished for.
Wished for earth**
getting a boast
proclaiming of borders***.
Borders declaring prosperity
green-growth after spring
autumn increase of horses
a troop for the land
land that goes in strength and abundance.
Be it a strong, beautiful wood, long-lasting a great boundary
'Have you a story?'
Peace to sky
be it so lasting to the ninth generation


*scíath means shields but also "fighting man, warrior, guardian". The usual translation here is given as shield, but I prefer the imagery that comes with warrior, however it may also be taken as "spears supported by shields, shields supported by forts"
** alternately "wished for by flesh"
*** this line "boinn a mbru" is often translated as "calves in wombs" or something similar, assuming boinn should be boin or boinin - calf, and taking bru as womb. I believe in this case boinn is actually ad-boinn, a form of apad meaning to declare or proclaim, and bru here means boundary or border. I think this makes the most sense in context with the preceding and following lines.


Reference:
Gray, E., (1983) Cath Maige Tuired

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Translating the Untranslated

If you read the English version of the Cath Maige Tuired, whether its the Stokes or Grey translation, and you compare the English versions to the Irish version you will see that several passages have not been translated at all. It may be because these sections are more difficult to understand, or lacked a poetry that the translators were aiming for, or it may be that these sections - all dealing with prophecy and battle magic - were a bit too pagan for the translators. For modern polytheists studying the material I believe these passages do have great value and so I have undertaken to learn Old Irish and attempt to translate them myself.
  For example in E. A. Gray's translation of the Cath Maige Tuired there is a section she translates as:
 "Then she said to him, "Undertake a battle of overthrowing," The Morrigan said to Lug, "Awake...." (Gray, 1982). The ellipses at the end indicate that there is an untranslated section of Irish that followed, which Gray, for whatever reason, chose to not to include. The Whitley Stokes version omits the entire passage. 
This is the passage in Old Irish from Gray's Irish Texts edition:
"Arfolmais cath mbrisi." Conid dei atppert an Morrigan fri Lug, "Diuchetrai cein cuild ansaim slaidither truasfidir troich tarret brothlach mbodhmhou indraither tuatha do agath diuchtra..."
 The following is my own translation of this passage:
"Undertake a battle of overthrowing," so sang the goddess Morrigan turning to Lug, "Awake, make a hard slaughter, smiting bodies, attacks boiling, greatly burning, devastating, the people to a man crying out..."
- Cath Maige Tuired, translation M Daimler (aka amateur)
 A less word-for-word and more poetic version might be: 
"Undertake a battle of overthrowing," The goddess Morrigan chanted to Lugh, "Awake, make a hard slaughter, smiting bodies with furious attacks, the sound of battle deafening, devastating the people who cry out to the last man..."

There are several more like this, including Lugh's battle magic chant and the Morrigan's prophecy at the end of the battle. My goal is to translate these myself and offer my versions here for anyone who might be interested in them, with the understanding that they are being done on a purely amateur basis. However even on that level I think the material has value and is worth studying and considering.   

*edited after publishing for better translation

Reference:
Gray, E., (1982). Cath Maige Tuired, Irish Texts Society

Further reading:

Stokes, W., (1891). The Second Battle of Moytura. Retrieved from http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300011.html

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Giveaway



Goodreads Book Giveaway


Lost in Mist and Shadow by Morgan Daimler

Lost in Mist and Shadow

by Morgan Daimler


Giveaway ends October 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mysticism and the Morrigan

   I've always been of a more mystical bent, but its one of the most difficult things to discuss. Not because mysticism is so difficult to talk about but because mystical experiences tend to lose something in the translation. Also one of the first things most people ask is how do I do what I do, followed by how can they do it too, and the answer to some of that is simply that I don't know. I don't know how I get some of what I get. Certainly I do use methods, both modern and reconstructed older Irish ones. But other things just come as they will, and I don't know how or why. I dream often of Otherworldly things, for example, and those dreams come on their own not at my will. I've tried a few times recently to convey some of those experiences here and here
  Last night I dreamt of Odin, the rune ansuz a burning brand that both consumed and was consumed. I dream often of him, and of going to the Otherworld, and of the Morrigan. This time of year I dream of the Wild Hunt. I could, of course, say these are merely dreams or I can see them as something else entirely. Sometimes the same experiences come in waking dreams or in imbas forosnai experiences, the latter were I am seeking them intentionally. 
  Another recent dream I shared on my facebook page involved a vision of myself standing at the edge of the vast sea, with a voice on the wind crying "Lost! Lost!". And I stood with my feet equally in water and on dry sand calling them in, back from the ninth wave, back from exile, and like birds they came, like ravens on the wing, soaring over the churning water.... I woke up in the dark early that morning to blood (my own) and tears (not my own). 
   Since the Morrigan's Call Retreat last June I've been having a lot more of these experiences that involve the Morrigan and related goddesses, which makes sense I suppose. I've seen Nemain bloody and terrifying, and Macha swinging her sword through the air with a clarion cry. I've seen Badb, both winging over the battlefield and in a river that was as much blood as water. I've seen the Morrigan standing on a hilltop, singing. I feel her calling to those who honor her, those who follow her, and her call is both a compulsion and a challenge. There is something coming, something electric in the air, like the charge of ozone before lightning strikes or the way the wind rises heralding a storm. I can feel it. 
  I hope we are all ready.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Random Life Notes and Some Writing Tips

  I realize I've been neglecting the blog of late, and I apologize for that. I do hope to be back on a regular schedule soon, but I've been dealing with a variety of pesky real life issues that take enough of my attention that I just don't have the time to get any nice juicy blogs done. Bear with me and it'll get better. Some of this has to do with an increase in the amount of writing I am doing elsewhere, and some of this has to do with child related things, but the end result is not enough blogging time.
   To fill you all in on what I've been up to in general. I wrote a couple guest blogs for Raise the Horns both on the Morrigan but very different in topic and tone. I submitted a couple essays for the next issue of Air n-Aithesc, a wonderful CR journal that comes out twice a year. I submitted an article for ADF's journal Oak Leaves, and another for the e-zine Goddess Alive! and I am working on two more for other e-zines as well. I've been asked to do an entry in another forthcoming anthology by my publisher, which should be interesting. I'm eagerly anticipating the release of my 9th book in December, Pagan Portals: The Morrigan, and recently finished the draft of my second urban fantasy novel which will hopefully be released soon as well (I'm aiming for October 31st, if all goes well). So its been a very busy writing time for me, just not here. I'm also gearing up now to officiate a wedding, head off to a Morrigan retreat for Samhain, and I have the Changing Times, Changing Worlds conference fast approaching (I'm teaching 6 workshops this year on a variety of subjects).
   Basically, I've been very busy, but am hoping that things will settle down and allow for more regular blogging soon.
   Besides all that I wanted to share a conversation I had today with a friend. We were talking about writing and in the course of the conversation I shared the two best pieces of writing advice I've ever gotten, which I'd like to share here too:
 1. Writing as a career is a job like any other and should be treated as one. When I first heard this it offended my artistic sensibilities, but the truth is, well, it's true. I treat writing with the same work ethic I treated every other job I've had and that means if I have time to write I write, whether or not I feel inspired or in the mood.
 2. Write what you enjoy reading about. This was some great advice from my friend Cathrine Kane  and I've always found it to be valuable. When we write about what we like to read about we have more passion about the topic or genre and we also are more familiar with it. And its much more fun to write.
  So there you go, hope you all have a great day!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Samhain Poem to the Morrigan

I dreamt last night of honoring the Morrigan at Samhain. In the dream I chanted the following, as if it were a song or sacred prayer:
"Great Queen, Lady of Phantoms
Giver of hard victory
who deals out both good and bad
terror, death, madness, battle, war,
soveriengty, glory, success,
Bloody blade and screaming crow
strong shield and swift cutting sword
see us through whatever comes
through cold and snow and hunger
'til summer's sun shines again"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Experiencing the Other Crowd

  One complaint that I see often in the wider pagan/polytheist community is that people of a more reconstructionist bent, such as myself, don't share enough personal experiences. That's actually a fair criticism generally speaking. For my part I have been trying to share more, although I have so far found it easier to share numinous experiences, especially those involving the Gods, through poetry. Today I wanted to share a little bit of my experiences with the Good Neighbors. Although everything to do with themselves is tricky, and often carries specific prohibitions about what can and cannot be shared, there are certain experiences that happened which involved more than just myself or which I know its okay to talk about. these are an array of things and involve, naturally, a variety of different kinds of spirits, but nonetheless I'd like to share some here. Hopefully it'll give people an idea of what these things can be like.

  For those who have read my book Fairy Witchcraft or attended some of my classes about the Other Crowd some of these may be familiar. This is my top 5 list of public or share-able experiences:
  5) I had made a habit of offering milk every friday to the spirits of my home and immediate area. My finances took a downward turn and I couldn't afford to keep up with it so I switched to other things. One friday a couple weeks after I stopped offering the milk I was getting out of my car after going grocery shopping when a gallon of milk was pulled out of my hand. The container hit the grass and burst. From then on I made sure to offer at least a small bit of milk each week
4) Many years ago I had a loose assortment of friends who were all different types of pagans. One full moon we decided to get together and have a ritual and one woman mentioned a spot out in the woods that she had used many times. We all met up in early afternoon and then drove out to the suburban home where her parents lived, before hiking back into the woods about a mile or so. The ritual location was lovely and we had a casual ceremony followed by a long, pleasant conversation that lasted into the early evening. Finally it was full dark, and even with the full moon above us the forest was closing in so we packed up and started back. After walking for about 5 minutes we could clearly see the lights from the houses shining through the trees ahead of us. But after ten more minutes the lights were no closer. We climbed over rocks and around trees, through thorns and fallen branches, yet never seemed able to move forward. One other friend and I began to suspect fairy enchantment, as the rest of the group fought to push forward. Finally, after perhaps another 15 minutes of walking, my friend and I acknowledged that we were being pixy-led; we began to laugh and compliment the fairies on such a fine joke. The energy broke with an almost physical snap and within a few minutes we emerged in a backyard a few houses down from where we’d first gone into the woods.
3) My friend has had a large shrine/altar for the aos sidhe in her store for 15 years. This past equinox we needed to move the shrine, which was an epic undertaking, and took most of a morning. Several days later I noticed a flourite ring was missing from a jewelry display. We both assumed it had been stolen, which was upsetting. Then my friend found it, days later on the new fairy shrine - covered in years of dust as if it had been there for a long time. (note we left it there - if they want an offering enough to take it, they can keep it)
2) As I was helping out in my friend's store one day I looked down and realized my wedding ring was gone. I panicked and my friend and I searched everywhere but there was no trace of it. I made several offerings to the aos sidhe hoping the ring would turn up, because I knew of their tendency to take jewelry, but it didn't. Months went by and I felt pressed to write my Fairy Witchcraft book, which I did (separate story). Shortly after I finished the book and submitted it to my publisher my friend found the ring sitting in front of her altar.
1) about a decade ago I was at a local state park that has a strong Other Crowd presence. While I was there I left a small pendant, a moonstone with an iolite set above it, as an offering. At my house I have a small room dedicated for ritual use; its where all my altars are. About a year ago I walked into my ritual room and sitting on the floor in front of my main altar was the pendant I had left as an offering all those years before.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Work In Progress Blog Tour

 Well I've been nominated by Arie Farnam, author of The Soul and the Seed to participate in the Work in Progress Blog Tour. The idea is to post the first sentence of each of the first three chapters of your work in progress.
  My current work is the sequel to my urban fantasy novel Murder Between the Worlds. This book picks up where the last one left off with my protagonist, Allie, trying to get her life back to normal after her attempt to help the police solve a series of murders in the first book. She's learning that moving on isn't as easy as she wants it to be, especially since things aren't as neatly tied up as the authorities all think they are. There's several mysterious things afoot, from missing girls to arson, and someone is going to a lot of trouble to make Allie's life unpleasant, but the biggest threat might be the one no one sees at all...
  Anyway, here are the first couple sentences/paragraph from the first three chapters of the rough draft. Enjoy!

Prologue
He watched the girl as she got ready to walk to her car, his hands shaking in excitement. She had finished her shift and clocked out five minutes ago but lingered, talking to friends. He wished she’d hurry. He’d waited too long, until the night he needed to do the ritual, and now there wasn't any time for mistakes.

Chapter 1
Allie McCarthy was not having a good day. She was late leaving for work after losing track of the time. When she turned onto Asylum street, the back road she usually drove to avoid Main Street, she was confronted with a wall of construction equipment and a sign declaring the road closed for repaving. By the time she detoured and fought through the weekend tourist traffic – not even a hint of what it would soon be when summer was upon them – it was quarter past and she was late. She parked haphazardly in the lot behind Between the Worlds, her bookstore, and jogged as quickly as her bad ankle would allow to the back door, hurrying to lower the magical wards that protected the building and unlock the door.


Chapter 2

 “Wow, that stuff reeks,” Jason made a face, waving his hand in front of his face.  
Allie stopped walking, the burning bundle of sage leaves held out in front of her. She glanced around her store, the ordered rows of bookshelves now obscured by a haze of smoke. “I like the way it smells.”
Jason wrinkled his nose, then looked up towards the ceiling, “You did remember to turn off the smoke detectors before lighting that thing up, right? Because I’m going to be really embarrassed if the alarm goes off and -”
“And all your firefighting buddies roll up and see you playing witch.” Allie interrupted, rolling her eyes. “Fine Takada, go open the front door and let some fresh air in.”


Here are the rules:


You write a blog post about your work in progress and include the first sentences of the first three chapters (at least as they stand at the moment). You link back to me and you link to several other authors who you nominate. Traditionally, you nominate four.

 I have been trying to decide who to nominate but am being challenged by the fact that the authors I know either don't blog (I'm looking at you James Ferace!) or don't have a current work in progress that's at a point where its ready to discuss (Looking at you now Nimue Brown). So I'm going to nominate Catherine Kane, because I know she's working on the sequel to her wonderfully fun urban fantasy The Land That Lies Between and she blogs, and also Elen Sentier whose amazing book Moon Song is coming out through Cosmic Egg Books and who I'm sure is working on something, and blogs.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

You May Have Fairy Blood If...

So there's a post on a major blogsite about 8 ways to tell if you may have fairy blood. The list is heavily prejudiced towards a modern (post-Victorian) view of fairies and specifically of winged flower fairies as far as I can tell. It also includes an array of characteristics that could apply to many people for many reasons, like feeling the need to lighten the mood in serious situations with humor.
   Now in the traditional lore there are stories of people who have fairy ancestry of various sorts, from the children of selkies and fisherman to those who have a human mother and aos sidhe or alfar father. But I would tend to use a very different measure, myself, when discussing whether someone might have "fairy blood". You'll quickly see a theme for my criteria....but I'll say that I'm not just getting this from folklore, and that I do believe there are more things on Heaven and earth as Shakespeare said, so...
  The following is just my own list, feel free to disregard if it doesn't appeal to you. And I know it won't to many people.

  You May Have fairy Blood If....
  1) An aversion or reaction to iron and iron alloys - its pretty traditional in most stories for the good Neighbors to have issues with iron, which is why its such a powerful protection against them. This same thing can also apply to other traditional fairy protections.
  2) A flamingly inappropriate sense of humor - laughing when other people are crying, or laughing when other people are very angry. In many stories fairies are described crying at happy occassions or laughing at funerals. The jokes they play on people are also often extreme and lean towards the macabre.
  3) An unusual charisma or ability to charm people - if we look at stories that mention people with mixed ancestry they are usually described this way
  4) A reputation for magical skill or healing - same as above
  5) An unusual physical appearance - in stories this can be exceedingly pale, fair, dark, tall, beautiful, Otherworldly or so on.
  6) Intense emotions that may be described as inflexible - again based on looking at how folklore portrays fairies, they are often described as quick to anger, quick to love, and difficult to sway.
  7) A love of both the beautiful and the broken - in folklore the Fey love luxury and fine things. They also have a penchant for the grotesque.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Plagiarism and Pirating Books Suck

This is expanded and re-posted from a blog I wrote a couple years ago called "The Ethics of Information"

   Several years ago I wrote this: Twice in the past week I have seen people post online direct quotes they did not write. One was a prayer and the other an excerpt from a book, but in both cases no source was given, nor was it even mentioned in the original post that the person posting the information wasn't the author of it. In the first case when asked if it was okay to share the prayer the person said they had not written it and could not remember the source so, in a move that totally baffled me, the second person replied that they would simply credit the original poster as the source, even though that person admitted they had not written it. A quick Google search turned up the name of the author but even when that was known people continued to credit the poster, I assume because they ignored the discussion under the post. In the second case the person posted a paragraph long excerpt from a book under similar circumstances, but in that case I actually was familiar enough with the book that I immediately recognized it and mentioned the source. The response by the poster was that they liked the subject and just wanted to share. Along those same lines a friend had her entire blog re-posted without attribution by someone who seemed equally baffled as to why that mattered. Sometimes the person may genuinely not realize that it does, and sometimes the person may want other people to think that they did write those words, so they can enjoy the praise and compliments generated from it. And this morning I woke to read a link to a blog talking about yet another site making the rounds that offers free pdfs of many popular pagan books, something that should clearly be against the majority of neopagan morals yet rarely fails to appeal*. (yes I admit it mystifies me that the same person who argues to the death that any magic for personal gain is wrong will turn around and cheerfully download over 100 still-in-print pagan books without seeing any issue with it). 
   Maybe this is a sensitive issue for me because I have experienced it in the past, opening an email to see my own words - my reading list, my spell - under someone else's name and fought back only to get the same reply - who cares? As if I was the one who was wrong, because they say, information should be free for everyone. I have been told that anything spiritual should be free, should be shared, that sources don't matter, or in one case that knowing the true source was the responsibility of the reader not the poster, like some sort of test. Well I will never agree that it doesn't matter or that we shouldn't care. Plagiarism is a big issue in paganism, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose, but it will never get any better as long as we as a community put up with it. Now I don't mean things like chants and songs which can be more difficult to track back and spread like ink in water, although it's still worth trying to find sources on those as well, but most other material can be found, and in our online age can be found fairly easily. I would like to hope that it was obvious that any book under copyright - anything under copyright at all actually - should be respected.
   On the other hand there are some things that I do agree belong to everyone. Ritual structure, general meditations, things that truly cannot be traced back to any one person. Mythology. The old beliefs themselves. No one person can claim these things and they do belong to all of us. 
   I think it presents an interesting challenge to the community at large to decide how we are going to deal with the ethics of information. There seems to be a pretty wide spread belief that sources, and citing sources, doesn't matter, and that can only change if we as a community change it. The idea that everything should be free - including books - will only change when the people thinking that way stop and realize how much work and effort goes into that book, or article, or what-have-you and decide that supporting the author (or in the case of deceased authors the family) is better than the quick fix of a free file. What value do we place on something that is free, compared to something that we had to work and save to get? What value do we place on our community itself and it's integrity if nothing matters but instant gratification?

  *I am reposting this today after finding one of my books available on a free download site this morning. It has been downloaded there almost as often as copies have been sold, which represents a significant loss both to my publisher and to me. These sites offer a wide array of in-print in-copyright books all of which represent taking money away from people who put a lot of time and effort into writing, editing, and publishing those books. 
   Taking someone else's words and claiming them as your own is wrong and it hurts the original author. Taking those words and attributing them to "anonymous" also hurts an author. How? Because people who like those words don't know who said them and may never expend the effort to find out. People who might have read more by that person instead add small quote or prayer or article into their own array of material under that anonymous label without another thought. 
  Taking a book in pdf form - or scanning one into that form - and then handing it out like candy hurts authors. It devalues the original work, for one thing, and it takes money away from authors who are already not seeing a huge return for their efforts. It is stealing. Imagine that you have worked hard for months or even years to make something and you put it out to sell it and then find someone else has taken it and is giving it away instead. And lets just be blunt here, free pdfs are not in anyway like library books. For one thing a library has one copy which was paid for and can only go to one person at a time; a free pdf can be copied and handed out exponentially. People who pass out free books are hurting the authors of those books, and anyone who thinks authors make a lot of money and won't notice a few stolen copies of books - or a few thousand pdfs getting passed out - has no actual idea of how being an author really works for the vast majority of us.  
  I want to emphasize that this kind of theft of intellectual property really hurts small authors like myself. It's not a harmless thing or a victimless crime; its choosing to take an action that has a real world impact on a person. This is true whether its a book, artwork or music - people need to think really hard about what they are doing before they do it. If you wouldn't walk up to me, reach into my pocket, and take money out, then why would you ever think its okay to get or hand out a free copy of one of my books?