Monday, June 16, 2014

Kim's game

I'm going to start introducing information I've gleaned from multiple sources, on becoming a better warrior. Not everybody is called to warriorship, but we can all learn from these techniques and apply them to other parts of life.

First, we must be mindful. Too many approach life casually, being only superficially interested in what goes on around them. I often try to play Kim's Game to improve my ability to recall and be observant about things around me.



Note the goal should not be to memorize everything about every event, this is simply not possible. What one needs to do is improve his attentiveness and awareness, and this can only be done through practice.

Pay attention to your daily commute, try to recall license plates, train numbers, the dress of commuters, what they carry, what people say. Try to recreate the scenes in your mind, and this will strengthen your visualization ability. This is the first way to hone your awareness, and oddly, will improve your magical ability. You needs must visualize anything before you can effect change.t dividends

Practice it, as childish as it seems. I will pay great dividends.

End of pseudonyms


Hi Wild Hunters, and any new folks to my blog page as well as old folks. A housekeeping announcement:

I realized when Jason Pitzl Waters linked through to the blog that I still had listed a pseudonym that I was using a while back: Corvus Black. And yes, in that name there's a slight nod to Sirus Black, a wonderful character played by Gary Oldman in the Harry Potter movies.

But time has come to retire that name. The whold FPG standoff a couple months ago forced me to reevaluate the wisdom of what I was protecting. Most of the family in my generation are aware of my Paganism and most of the public too. Only a few older folks whom I love I'd been “protecting” by not using my surname, but I realize it's time to step out in to my self for what I am, and what I do.

My name is Edward G. Rickey. Any and all work I will do from this point forward will be done, as I did with both the Joint Resolution committee and my workshop at Morrigan's Call, with my legal name. I am also the same Edward G. Rickey who is published in various physics journals on the subject of quantum optics and nonlinear optics.

I'll make such changes as are needed to update the blog and such, but there were advantages to keeping my religious life separate from my professional. For one thing, there are scientists who would look sideways if I claimed to be practicing an ancient religion with all the trappings of magic and channeling the Gods and all that. Might even question my research.

But since 2004, I've been out of that field. I'm quite proud of the work, and those I worked alongside. But I really doubt I'd find myself back in a lab under grant and at university again, but if I did I would want to be able to live openly as a Pagan and a scientist, not having to keep an imaginary wall between them.

So now with my name public, it's time to begin anew.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My time at Temenos

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent an amazing weekend with other Morriganists at the Temenos Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts for a retreat called The Morrigan's Call.

To say western Mass is pretty is an understatement to a Southern flatlander like myself. I've travelled a bit around the US, but this area is truly beautiful. Old hills, formed from glaciers, covered with green trees. My Florida forests are poor soil and hardscrabble trees that fight amongst themselves, oaks vs. pines. There's competition for water, since it isn't scarce but the sandy soil means it doesn't last. This kind of natural strife shapes the land and the animals who inhabit it. Even the humans, tortured by heat and humidity, lashed by occasional hurricanes, are a different, harder breed.

The land around Temenos is quite the opposite. The people were friendly and kind, and there's an expectation that the world will just work somehow. The fauna are easy to be around, with a porcupine sighting at camp. As we were toured and oriented around camp, we saw salamanders on the trails, my first time seeing a “wild” salamander.

The rituals were intense: The Washer at the Ford, Macha of the Red Tresses, and Anu were all honored each. A temple space was dedicated to altars of the various names for the Queen as well as the Dagdha, and Nuada. Open the whole event, anytime one wanted he or she could hike up a narrow foot trail to the space and be alone with Them.

Temenos is truly off-grid. There was no cell reception for most, no electricity, water drawn from a well. The place used to have a hotel, a folks would come for the curative mineral water properties. The water tastes strongly of iron and sulfur and is said to contain quite a bit of magnesium. I drank it frequently, and it reminded me of well water from my grandparents house in South Florida when I was young.

The most important thing I can convey is the sense of being in a tribe. For three days we ate, sang, prayed, learned and laughed together. I knew few of them by reputation, some from Facebook, and only Stephanie personally. I can say now I have dozens of friends all of whom share my devotion to Her.

I also met people new to Paganism. Friends I could show the way I walked, and maybe they could see some things in a new way.

Nights at the lodge were magical. We had only a couple propane lanterns, a couple kerosene lanterns and many tea lights to scare away the deep dark woods, and I often thought of what my ancestors felt as they gathered around small lights to listen to the harp that one person brought, the guitar another brought. We told tales from our homes and of our travels, laughed and helped each other through tough personal stuff.

I guess the only annoyance were the mosquitoes. Three days of rain prior had brought them on, but I joked about them during my workshop. It became an experiment to see what combination of repellents worked best. Not unlike when I was a kid slogging through the Everglades in summer.

My body was challenged a bit like my soul. Western Mass is rocky, unlike our sandy wilds, and being on the side of the mountain, every trip was up or down, or both. It felt good to move through that space, oftentimes it was easy to forget that I came from a world of internet and cell service. I felt connected to the land as I walked through it, my feet learning to navigate and old path both figuratively and literally. I became stronger, and moved more easily with time.

It ended too quickly, the relentless clock demanding I hurry back to an airport to ride in a metal tube through near space with strangers. I spent every waking moment staring out a window or reading devotional words to her, afraid I'd lose the feeling. And then all kinds of folks started finding me on social media. My tribe may be scattered, but we all want very much to keep as close as our technology will allow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Follow up information to the Warrior Mindset workshop

Greetings to the crows who joined me in Massachusetts at the Morrigan retreat put on by Morrigu's Daughters. I had a wonderful time with you all, and have great memories. We all did important work.

As I promised in the workshop these are sourcebooks I used and others I suggest.

Living the Martial Way - Forrest E. Morgan
The single best book I own on this subject. Heavily leaning towards practicing Asian martial artists, the information can and should be applied more broadly.

The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi
The preeminent swordfighter of Japanese history, at age sixty he sat down to write his thoughts after winning 35 duels and establishing his own school of fencing. As with any Japanese/Chinese literature, read several translations, since a single character can have several meanings. Some writers imply all or some alternate meanings, and good translators will work to include the nuances. I have the Cleary translation from Shambala Press.

Jarhead - Anthony Swofford
This is the book I read the passage from.

On Killing - Dave Grossman
Source of the Sheepdog/Wolf analogy.

33 Strategies of War - Robert Greene
Amazing sourcebook from all across classical literature. He uses all kinds of sources to illustrate the systems that win wars. Two of his other books, 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction are ones I highly recommend.

Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek
While specifically focusing on team or corporate leadership, Sinek's work is good for understanding the relationships in organizations and the source of the hormones of emotion that I mentioned.

King Warrior Magician Lover - Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
A so-so book about warriorship, but a good discussion on male archetypes and how they work or fail.

The Tao of Jeet Kun Do - Bruce Lee
Any practicing martial artist needs to read this book.

Guerilla Warfare - Che Guevarra
Focuses on the relationship between a warfighter and the people he fights for. If you can set aside the politics, an excellent book. If this is your speed, follow it up with Mao Tse Tung's book On Guerrilla Warfare.

Secrets of the Samurai - Oscar Ratti and Adelle Westbrook
Kooky title but a very good overview of Budo, or the Way of the Warrior in Japan.

Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere - Oscar Ratti and Adelle Westbrook
Probably the best book ever written on the subject.

The Last Article (short story) - Harry Turtledove
A short story in sort of an alternate history. The Nazis defeat the British and invade India, and then have to deal with Ghandi. There's a powerful lesson here, and an easy read.

The Sword and the Mind - tr. and ed. Hirosaki Sato
This book is a translation of two of the main manuals for swordfighting in the Yagyu-ryu school, known as family-books.

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In addition I'd like to suggest three other sources. They all have Youtube channels and you might learn something from them.

First in Travis Haley, owner of Haley Strategic. He coined the phrase "higher standard of care" that I used.
Haley Strategic

Second is Chris Costa, owner of Costa Ludis training.
Costa Ludis

Third is James Yeager, owner of Tactical Response. He is the source of the comment "I don't kill people, I protect people. In protecting people, sometimes bad guys die".
James Yeager
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I wish you good learning.

If you want to email me, send it to edwardgrickey@gmail.com, or search for me on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/edward.rickey





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Follw up email to the FPG board


Readers of this blog may or may not find this subject tiresome, but I feel that what we are seeing is an example of a changing of the guard. The old way of doing business in the Pagan community doesn't work anymore. Holding one's leaders accountable is always an important thing.
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to: Ann Marie Augustino, tegbod@flapagan.com;“Medea", register@flapagan.com

from: Edward G Rickey, edwardgrickey@gmail.com

Re: Future FPG changes

Greetings,

I hope this email finds you well. Upon reflection on the events of Beltaine 2014, it has occurred to me that in all the discussions, the future path of FPG was never made clear to anyone either in announcements, in social media or at the infamous Round Table discussion. I believe there are a few very important questions that never got answered. If you will indulge me, I'd like to ask them.

1. Has the Board made a decision on the future of the Frosts being granted headline status, given workshop space and/or being allowed to vend at future FPG's?

2. If the answer to question #1 is Yes, then what is the decision?

3. If the answer to question #1 is No, then when can the community expect such a decision?

4. Given the insistence that the First Amendment is a guiding principle at FPG, how does the Board explain its multiple removals of posts to it's Facebook page and further discouragement of public discussion on social media, instead requesting private emails?

5. Is the Board prepared to make any substantive changes to the existing policy on harassment?

6. Is the Board prepared to make substantive changes to how it ensures the safety of children in Kid's Realm, or in The Forge?

7. What training and policies has the Board put in place screening facilitators of Kid's Realm and the Forge?

8. Does the Board keep a log of any persons who have violated the No Means No rules? Has the Board reached out to any other festivals to compare notes and ferret out serial offenders?

9. Do the Board members exercise their own individual discretion regarding ejection and/or banning, or are other members consulted? Is there an objective standard for determining punishment?

10. Does the Board have any policies on false accusations?

11. There was a statement made by a board member at the Round Table, claiming every attendee was screened for sexual offender status/predator status prior to the event. That was either mistaken or misleading – I registered on-site and no background was done or could have been done on me. Is there a policy of background checks on day-of-event attendees?

12. What other background checks does the board do on attendees? What sort of background would disqualify a person from attending?

I appreciate your consideration of this list, I know it is long, but I think these are important questions.

Further, I'd like to add that since I have failed to get a reply in the past to my emails, I'll be posting this email to my blog site: jetblackwings.blogspot.com. Not to put you on the spot, but it has been my experience that emails “disappear”. If you are agreeable to it, I can post an unedited reply to the blog as well.

It is my hope that a healthy dialogue, in keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment, can help us to make a better FPG in the future. As I said a the Round Table, we are co-creators of this event. It is my hope that we can remain co-creators through an informative discussion.

Regards,

Edward G Rickey

Monday, May 12, 2014

Upcoming workshop

OK party peeps, a general announcement:

I will be teaching a workshop at the upcoming retreat The Morrigan's Call at the Temenos Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts the weekend of June 6-8. I do believe the Retreat is sold out, which is awesome for a first time. It's being put on by my SuperFriend Stephanie Woodfield. She has writings too, so check her stuff out. Everyone should have a friend like her, but you can't have mine. Go find your own Stephanie.

My workshop will be called The Warrior Mindset and it will be composed of two parts: Making Warriors and The Warrior Ethos. It may help all you non-warriors understand what goes into making special people extra special.

Beyond Temenos, I had planned to re-do my old workshop on Quantum Magic harking back to my physics days at university and research labs, but sadly I won't be attending FPG anytime in the future. If you have any confusion, read earli8er blog entries.

I might offer it for Phoenix Phyre, but even if I don't I plan on attending PP in Samhain 2014. Come check out the Camp at the End of the Internet if you're there. Bring Burbon, specifically the Devil's Cut.

http://www.jimbeam.com/devils-cut

I hear the land spirits really like it too.

There is a small event in Miami run by EMLC called Turning Tides that I plan on attending in December, and I may offer a workshop there too. Most likely Warrior Mindset as that I've done QM there before. Unless the crowd really wants something different.

Finally these are bluiesky propositions. First, I've been kicking around an idea for a book, Pagan Ethics, not that crap like When, Why, If.. by Robin Wood or Rabinovich and MacDonald's An Ye Harm None, equally garbage IMO. My proposal would be to write a historical survey of actual ethics and morality from pre-JudeoChristian and non-JudeoChristian societies. This would form the basis of a modern Pagan ethical system. I'm allowing about two years in research and development.

Second there is the possibility of an event coming up that I'm helping to organize. It could be really cool. Not saying too much...

Wish me luck.

The view from the locomotive in the train wreck, part 2

So in our last discussion I related the events that took place at the 2014 Beltaine FPG round table, post Ken Klein and post Gavin and Yvonne Frost. I have to correct one factual error: I stated that all headliners save one were pro-Frost. I was incorrect. One other headliner was not in attendance, and I cannot speak for his/her opinion on the Frost issue.

The story still continues as of this writing. In private discussions, I've been told TEG is now claiming that the Frosts may yet come back to FPG, TEG will not consider looking at other orgnaizations who have had great success in dealing with these problems (e.g. the Boy Scouts, sci-fi conventions, etc), and have no plan to put forth any changes to the “policy” that is already in place. Further, they are retracting claims made in the past that Camp La Llanada had any hand in the Frosts not coming, and that choice was made by the Frosts themselves.

I take this as a total line of BS.

The tactical considerations

Lets lay out some basic information. FPG was founded about 20 years ago as Freedom Fest, a vehicle to pay Roger Coleman's legal bills after his legal battle with the City of Palm Bay. I spoke with Roger a few years back, and he explained to me that the City had tried to use zoning to cite him and his coven. The patttern showed a clear intent to intimidate as each citation ran out only a week before the next sabbat. The legal battle worked its way thought the federal courts system, and as Roger explains it, the appelate level below the Supreme Court had found for Iron Oak. The city wanted to pursue it but their lawyers advised against it. Roger was broke, and the two parties settled.
The fire FPG was born in was one of First Amendment battles, and religious freedom. It was no surprise that the tactic used was to frame this as a first amendment fight against some rabble rousers who were just scared about Ken Klein. What FPG refuses to realize is that there are real monsters under the bed.

The second consideration is what we can say of Big Name Pagans who sign on to this idea. These folks couldn't care a bit about a first amendment battle, they are driven by book sales. One real standout who has not publically stated anything negatively towards the Frosts or towards the “rabble”, called for a stepping back, a calm and reassessment. I wish I could give a name, but as per the rules I can't out this individual if they don't first. I can say I'd never met him/her before, and have to remark how impressed I was. This individual truly deserves the title “Elder” if we ever gave one. The rest just parroted the party line – defend the Frosts, even if to a one they roundly describe the GWB as garbage and not worth the paper it's printed on.

Why? Because if it could happen to the Frosts, they reason, it could happen to them.

Now ignoring the fact that each one takes every opportunity to clarify they are offering information for historic value only; that they offer alternatives to objectionable historic practice like blood sacrifice and hallucinogenic plant use - one could make a myopic argument that there is some risk, and the only protection they had was a tolerant and protective community.

But it was all these very safeguards in publishing that we were ever asking the Frosts to use. And we'd hoped the Frosts would too. Oddly, as I write this, the Frosts are considering a rewrite of the GWB, and soliciting help.

The problem of downlines

The Frosts have a substantial downline, folks initiated by them or their initiates, into their particular brand of Wicca. It has been suggested in this conversation between PfC and TEG that the sins of the Frosts might visit their downline students. If the Frosts themselves don't clean up Ch 4, then this leaves a huge burden on those left behind when they die or stop writing.

This really isn't the kind of inheritance anybody wants.

I think one of the most valuable things to come out of this whole row was the urgency it brought to the downline problem. I can't speak about the Frosts' policies regarding initiations, but if they're anything like the Gardenarians (and I am OC Gard, Long Island line), I can tell you questioning or changing any craft information is strictly forbidden. I doubt anyone wants to be the one to confront their Craft founders publicly, so spurring the Frosts to do SOMETHING might come out for the good.
Assuming they don't double down. You see, for them its a business. Their courses average $100-$200,and any controversy that drives people to them will pay eventually, law of averages proving someone will sign up.

And I think that's why they really never touched Ch 4. In a private conversation, I spoke with someone who asked the Frosts about Ch 4 directly. They reportedly were diffident, saying the publisher made them put in a disclainer, but they didn't see anything wrong with it. If you were getting a steady stream of students every ten years or so when Ch4 issues came up, I doubt you'd do anything to change it. But whty address it now?

Gavin was born in 1930, which makes him about 84 years old. His health isn't that good, based upon seeing him at FPG last year. I imagine they've done the math: he's probably got a hand full of years left, and the mounting pressure from the community has probably convinced them they aren't going to milk that cow much longer. Might be time to put it out to pasture and think carefully about their legacy.

Of course, they could be planning to do it as a show of feigned sympathy to public opinion. I'll take that.

The future and the problem of Miasma

In the run up to the RT, I took on the task of reaching out to some different folks – devotional polytheists.

Since I was the only dev-poly actively representing myself and PfC, I took on the task of reaching out to Kenaz Filian. I did a bit of research on him – he'd been calling for more of the tactics that seemed to work. Contacting campsites directly to make FPG functionally homeless until or unless they made real policy changes. My exchanges with him were very cordial. He shared a lot of my concerns, and in preparation to contact Galina Krasskova, I happened upon a series of conversations between them that she published on her blog.

The subject was Miasma.

Miasma is a generational curse, which afflicts the community when the law of or respect for the Gods is not honored. It's quintessential examples are from Greek mythology as the House of Atreus where Atreus fed the ground up bodies of his brother's children to him, or the House of Oedopus where his father King Laius defies the Oracle at Delphi's prophecy that his son would kill his father and marry his mother. Laius attempts infanticide, Oedupus commits fratricide, and Antigone who attempts to preserve the law of the Gods in a speedy burial of her brother and defies Theban law. The theme of miasma permiates the Theban cycle.

In each case, defying the Divine Law brings or reinforces miasma.

Krasskoiva and Filian seem to they agree that the Pagan community is suffering a miasma. Klein and the Frosts are really only symptoms of a greater problem. That is this: Impiety. They treat the Gods at best as if they are not real. Archetypes, ideas, imaginary things to be dismissed or change faces of as it suits the whims of the participants. They are fairy tales, this “all Gods are one God” business has reduced them to dolls in a toy box to be played with and discarded.

At worst, the coarseness of invoking a God to give you a blessing for free, the ubiquitous “I sometimes work with n.” shows that they are not treated as GODS, but a vending machine to give out sex tips, winning lottery numbers or better jobs.

And to me, that is the acme of impiety.

When you call out to Freya, the Daghda, and Baron Samedi, as FPG did in their main ritual at Samhain 2013, do you not expect them to appear? Were I one of the group above, I'd turn to the Baron and let him run roughshod all over that event. And that friends, is what He did.

The funny thing about miasma is that there are a few ways to treat it. Simply put:

Get the hell out of Dodge. Probably the single most effective way to avoid the plague of miasma is to leave the area and people of its influence.

Make sacrifices to the Gods. You should be doing this already, to ensure a good relationship between yourself and Them or Those you are close to.

Kill or ritually sacrifice the source of the miasma. Not literally of course, but one could shun, silence, or ostracize the carriers of the plague until they make amends to the Ones they have offended.

Honor the Gods. And do what they say.

Do I think that's what will work? Brothers and sisters, that's the only thing that will work. You have to set aside this idea that They aren't real – when you call to Them, They appear. When you honor Them, They bless you. It would be better you never knew Their names and be completely ignorant than to be a wanna-Blessed Be and be shooting off at the mouth to Gods and Powers you don't even believe in.

Either that modern Pagans need to repair the rift, or prepare to reap the hurricane.

Ken Klein is the first one CAUGHT, I guarantee there are more pervs and molesters and creeps out there. Its funny, a few of the speakers at the RT commented that they'd known Klein and felt he was a creeper, but that the Frosts were not. I'd argue with them, why didn't they report it then? Why sit on their hands and do nothing until after the fact, and then join the chorus denouncing him, while then Frosts continue to peddle Ch 4?

Miasma. A contagious condition that screws your judgement. A curse that blinds you, and then justifies your blindness. And those who call it out, like poor Antigone, are doomed by YOUR miasma.