When words matter

The article I wrote about Pagan copyright violations was complicated.  For one, the laws themselves are complicated.  For another, many people (Pagan and not) believe they understand those laws, when mostly all they understand is what other people have told them.  That can lead to people with good intentions violating laws or harming other people.  Yuck.

What I cannot understand is the way people dig in, and really fight for the right to make infinite copies of works others created, even after authors patiently explain how these actions bring harm.  That’s why I felt it was important to capture some of those sentiments.  This is not evidence that Paganism is fracturing and falling apart (if it ever was together), because this is not a Pagan issue at all.  21st-century people seem to feel thoroughly entitled to get it all for free, and when the legitimate channels of free information bore them, they will go to incredible lengths to justify this theft.

Wiccan and, I am certain, other Pagan ethics are quickly tossed aside in favor of having another book for free.  I’m not claiming the moral high ground here; I downloaded some music before the turn of the century that I shouldn’t have, and I do understand the allure, but the magnitude of the problem is mind-blowing.  The cognitive disconnect is such that I am sure someone is downloading Pagan Ethics as you read this.  Considering that the group owner was not only unapologetic, but openly admitting he’d put the content someplace where it again could be illegally downloaded, is evidence of a problem which isn’t just him, or that one group, or people who follow a Pagan or polytheist religion.  It’s all of us, and something has to change or art itself may be relegated to something people only do as a hobby.

There are some who believe they are sticking it to the man, or believe that all information should be free, or down with government.  I get that, I really do.  I wonder how many female/gay/trans/minority/disabled authors feels empowered by their actions?  Is it possible that theft is simply theft, and shouldn’t be used as a form of activism any more than rioting should, because it’s impossible to predict who will be harmed?

Perhaps we need to find a way to return to patronage of the arts.  I know that Patreon is out there, but I’ve avoided it simply because it carries with it an expectation to perform like a circus animal, generating content to keep the patrons happy.  That’s not how art is created, and I don’t think it’s how patronage works best.  I’ve been researching a book on Pagans and money for five years and it could be another five before I get it written.  It would be far longer if I had to stop to provide proof-of-life content; I’d have to work on posts and fresh content instead of reading and taking notes on what I’d like to say.  It seems to work for some folks, but I am not sure it’s for me.

New Kickstarter reward offered

To fund illustrations for my book Depth of Praise, I’m running a Kickstarter campaign.  Today, I’m offering an exclusive-and-unique new reward:  my very own art.

Poseidon lifts his trident, 2015 by Terence P Ward, all rights reserved

Poseidon lifts his trident, 2015 by Terence P Ward, all rights reserved

This image, Sharpie marker on legal-sized printer paper, captures exactly why I am seeking funds to professionally illustrate this book.  You’ll receive this original work, mailed flat, for just $30 plus shipping and handling.

In case I’ve not yet made the case well enough, check out the video and decide for yourself.

30 days of devotion: art that reminds me of Caffeina

Well if you want something visual, let’s take a look at some of the images from previous posts in this series:

And some others I haven’t used:
On a deeper level, I think this says something about me, that the art the reminds me of Caffeina is art of Caffeina.  What it says is that I revel in concrete operationalism, but check back in twenty years, things may have changed by then.

This post is part of a series, 30 days of devotion to Caffeina.

Patriot Games

As a Pagan I believe it’s important to see the sacredness is everything. Stephen Colbert must be a god:

Anyone that can find an arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” which is worth listening to just has to be divine. Based on an English drinking song that is difficult to sing even while drinking, it’s not the kind of singalong that a national anthem ought to be. It’s also focused on our flag as an inspiration, which is an idea I support but too narrow for a national anthem. And did I mention is was based on a song written in the country that was, at the time of poem’s composition, was burning our cities?

So to perform such a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” leaves me in awe. Stephen Colbert’s talents never fail to impress me.

Time enough for magic

It’s not my wont to perform magic (and I certainly haven’t studied enough of Crowley to be worthy of performing magicK), and mostly that’s not because I doubt the stuff works. Lots of Pagans are really into spellcraft, and it almost seems like magic itself is their religion; I suppose this is an extension of the active-participant philosophy Pagans have, as opposed to the sit-and-watch-the-holy-man-work tradition that many religions recommend. So as I said, I don’t doubt it works, but I do have a lot of doubts that man understands it anymore than he understands science. I don’t practice genetic engineering or fertility treatment, either.

Magic seems to have in common with other areas of knowledge one trait: humans learn enough about it to get excited, and then they just rush off and try some. We’re really short-lived, so we’re always in a great deal of a hurry to put what we just learned into practice, to try it out and see if we’re right. Being that we have an Epimethean vision of the future, we’re always surprised, a generation or two down the road, when we discover our actions have consequences. What do you mean, all the passenger pigeons are dead? With horror and with the same lack of foresight we often try to fix the problems we created in the first place . . . for example, we added MTBE to gasoline to reduce emissions, and got contaminated groundwater instead.

So mostly I hesitate to engage in magic because Gaiapeds prefer to Leave No Trace, and because I can’t foretell the future, even if my life depends upon it. We’re just such powerful, creative, hasty creatures, we humans, that we go off and try out all our new toys this instant and then cry and get upset when we break them or make a big mess.

Okay, so I’m an earth-walker, which means that I should follow the lessons of the Earth. The Earth doesn’t just sit there, doing nothing . . . should I? Nothing frequently does as much damage as something, and it’s important to recognize that leaving no trace does not necessarily mean doing nothing at all . . . it means choosing the course of action that causes the least harm. The Earth does act. Observe the tides, the erosion, the plate tectonics. When the Earth chooses to act in a certain way, the method is almost always the same: slow, careful action with enough force behind it that it cannot be denied. From time to time, those forces result in big changes, but slow and steady pressure usually has slow and steady results, with the undeniable power of a tree breaking a rock or a shoreline dissolving away.

So I’m not comfortable rushing to an altar and lighting six purple candles, sprinkling dragonsblood deosil and chanting the names of God until the full moon rises. That doesn’t mean I won’t spend three or four months creating serenity, though . . . if it takes long enough, I’m going to understand what I’m doing long before I can do harm. I think that’s the secret to magic and science . . . if we’re willing to spend enough time we’re much more likely to act rightly. Most people really want to do the right thing, but we don’t allow ourselves enough time to discover what the right thing happens to be.

So like those zany Druids, I am proud to consider myself faster than a speeding oak tree.