Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Californians: VOTE YES ON PROP 37

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE vote YES on Prop 37!!!  This is very important!

This is the measure that will force agribusiness to label food they produce that contains genetically engineered (GMO, for "genetically modified organism") ingredients. And BTW, studies show that almost all soy and soybean products, which are in EVERYTHING, are GMO. http://www.naturalnews.com/034812_GMO_corn_soy.html 

There are a TON of anti-Prop 37 ads on TV that urge the consumer to vote against Prop 37, saying that it will cost consumers "about $400 in grocery bills every year" and that dupe the consumer into thinking that the labeling is "deceptive." They say that it "makes no sense" and they repeatedly use the word "scheme" to make everyone believe that they are getting screwed. Another thing that opponents to Prop 37 like to harp on is how "complex" and "misleading" the exemptions would be. Taken from the Official Voter Information Guide:

"37 is full of absurd, politically motivated exemptions. It requires special labels on soy milk, but exempts cow's milk and dairy products. Fruit juice requires a label, but alcohol is exempt. Pet foods containing meat require labels, but meats for human consumption are exempt."

Let's take this argument apart, shall we?

Soy milk is required to be labeled because SOYBEAN PLANTS ARE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED.  Milk and other dairy products are foods that come from cows, and cows are NOT genetically engineered.  The labeling is NOT required if the cow ate genetically engineered grain or feed - which is ALSO why meat is not required to be labeled:  because the animal which the meat came from itself is NOT genetically engineered.  HOWEVER, this is why pet food would be labeled:  because it also contains genetically engineered plants, such as grains, NOT because it is made out of meat as the opponents to Prop 37 would have you believe.  The fact that the pet food has meat in it is completely beside the point - it would be labeled because it contains GMO crops.  This is also why fruit juice would be labeled, if it came from a GMO plant.  (Not sure why alcohol is exempt, except that it is exempt from a lot of other things as well.) Organic foods are automatically exempt from the labeling, because anything "organic" by definition is not allowed to contain GMOs.  Not too difficult to understand, is it?  And yet the big businesses (among them, Monsanto, one of the most insidious and evil corporations in the world) apparently think we are all so stupid that we can't figure it out.

As for the claim that food costs will go up an average of $400 a year for families:  they say this under the assumption that food producers will switch to costlier organic or non-GMO ingredients rather than change their labels.  What?  Seriously?  The only thing that Prop 37 does is force producers to inform the consumer through labeling whether or not the food was produced using GMO ingredients - it does NOT prevent GMOs from being used.  Therefore, GMO products will still be sold, and people will still be free to buy them.  And because some people only seem to care about getting their food at the lowest prices, many will still buy them.  But at least we will all have the choice to buy GMO food or avoid it by knowing what is actually in the food.

And one more thing to consider:  why is it that Monsanto and all these other biotech and agribusiness companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to keep Prop 37 from passing? If their GMO foods are (as they claim) exactly the same as non-GMO foods and are completely safe and their crops so much better and beneficial to humankind, why aren't they standing behind them?  Why are they so worried about people finding out exactly which foods contain their products?  THAT in itself makes me really think that there must be some truth to the idea that GMO foods and crops are not as safe as they would have everyone believe.  There are scientists who claim that GMO foods may be the cause of the rise in food allergies, autism, ADHD, sterility, organ damage, even gene mutations that may be linked to cancer, Alzheimers, brain damage, birth defects, and other degenerative disorders and diseases.  I won't even go into how environmentally harmful GMOs are (that's a rant for another time.)

Here is something really nasty.  Monsanto, the largest producer of GMOs in the world, is responsible for most of that GMO corn and soy that is hiding in your food (remember the article from my first paragraph?)  Those same GMO crops were genetically engineered to resist herbicides, such as Roundup, which they also produce.  Most people have seen what Roundup does to weeds - it completely obliterates them, because the shit is so toxic. Which is why Monsanto has developed Roundup resistant crops:  so that they can spray the entire field, and only the weeds will die, but not the crops themselves.  That means, essentially, that whenever you eat GMOs, you are eating Roundup.     EEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW.

In closing, all I want to say is:
And if you really want to be safe, healthy, and environmentally responsible, BUY ORGANIC.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Question For All the Pagans

Hello all,
Here is a question for all of my fellow Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, New Agers, and any other magical folk:  what do you think I should make for my Etsy store?

If you do a search on Etsy for "Wicca," "Pagan," or even "Druid," (a search for "Witch" is too broad, as a lot of it is Halloween stuff) most of what pops up is about what you would expect: candles, incense, oils, and jewelry galore.  There are also a lot of wands, crystals, garb, and various divining tools.  I'm trying to come up with new and inventive products for the magical community, so I'm wondering what kinds of handmade things all of you out there WISH you could find.  Anyone with any ideas?

I have been selling mostly jewelry through my store, which is not a bad thing.  However, I want to be selling a greater variety of magical items.  So I have posted a few things that I make that I have not seen elsewhere or that I see very rarely.  Examples are:

Original Collage/Artwork
Themed Travel Altar Kits
Beaded Mosaic Pentacle Plaques
Kids Interfaith "Best Friend" Necklaces

I realize that the last one still qualifies as "jewelry," but it combines two things that I also don't see a lot of on Etsy:  interfaith merchandise and things for Pagan/Wiccan kids and teens.  With so many Pagan families "out of the broom closet" and raising children, I would think that there would be a need for items in both of these categories.  But then again, maybe the market is not there yet and I'm just a little ahead of the times.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas for something that might sell well or fill a niche in the magical community, I would love to hear your thoughts!  Just leave me a comment if you want to weigh in on what you think would be a great handmade item.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Etsy Barter/Trade Updates

I promised months ago that I would keep a detailed account of who I had traded with on Etsy, since I could vouch for those stores if anyone else wanted to trade with them.  So rather than put out a new list every few months, I think I will just start this one and add to it as I go.  (If you want to know how to do Etsy trades, send me a message through Etsy, my blog, or my email and I will gladly explain it.)

1.  Liz and Jordan at Creepy Creations (flamethrowerluv13):  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Flamethrowerluv13  (NOTE:  recently Creepy Creations closed their Etsy store and moved it to Storenvy, here:  http://www.storenvy.com/Creepycreations)
2.  Tinker Toad at Notch Road Fairies:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/notchroadfairies
3.  Kat at Readings By Kat:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/ReadingsByKat
4.  Deborah at Alaska Laser Maid:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlaskaLaserMaid
5.  Jean at Leaves on the Wind:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeavesOnTheWind
6.  Cynthia at Moon Hunter Jewelry:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonHunterJewelry
7.  Cassie at Cassie Vision:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/CassieVision
(PLEASE NOTE:  I approached Cassie about a trade on 12/2/13, and she is currently not trading because Etsy is her only source of income.  I don't know if this will eventually change or not.)
8.  Jen at Unique Visions by Jen:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/uniquevisionsbyjen
9.  Eryn at Naturally Eccentric (faeriesndragons):  https://www.etsy.com/shop/faeriesndragons
10.  Myth at Myth's Magickal Market:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythsMagickalMarket
11.  Niina at FairyChamber:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/fairychamber

Everyone on this list is super friendly and very approachable in terms of trading, and all have been wonderful to work with - very communicative, generous, and great turnaround on shipping.  I've had nothing but good luck with each of these stores.  (Psst... if you don't have an Etsy store but you do have an Etsy account and think that you might have something to trade that would be attractive to someone, just send them a convo or email with a picture and description attached and offer to send more pics if necessary.  You never know!)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Astrology and natal charts.

Just a quick note/opinion:

I feel that those who don't understand or don't believe in astrology also probably don't get that it is so much more involved than just reading a horoscope in the paper.

The true nature (science?) of astrology involves a hell of a lot more than just a person's sign.  If you ever get the chance to have a natal chart prepared and interpreted for you, try it.  You will need your exact time, date, and location where you were born.

A natal chart can then be prepared for you that examines the specific and distinctive relationships between the planets in relation to you and where you were when you came into this world.  It is (in my opinion) an incredibly revealing and uncanny "blueprint" of sorts that outlines all of your personality traits and possible life decisions.  I say "possible" because I think that it only roughly estimates what you might be drawn to or do in your lifetime, not because I believe that it will predict your future.  This is one of the reasons that I love astrology; it can be so accurate in determining a person's strengths and weaknesses, attractions and aversions, even thoughts and probable decisions.  But a person still has free will, and can choose to change any of these at any time.  Knowledge about a personal natal chart can also make this easier.

At the very least, obtain your birth records and determine your sun sign, rising sign, and moon sign.  Even these three astrological facts will be extremely more informative than just knowing your sun sign alone.  (Also, try to get your exact time of birth... it can make a big difference in accuracy.)    There are some great places online where you can get a natal chart, such as this one here:  http://alabe.com/freechart/  Then, if you are interested in learning more about astrology, consider making an in-person appointment with an astrologer, who can explain in greater detail the finer points of your chart and who can also field any questions you might have.  If there are no astrologers in your area or you don't know how to find one, you can also get a chart made and interpreted for you through email.  Etsy has a number of people who provide this service, as does Llewellyn Worldwide.  Go to either site and search for "natal chart" or "birth chart."  Above all, have fun with it and try to keep an open mind!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

No wonder he was so helpful...

Funny story:

So the other day I went to the grocery store.  This store only has self-checkout, but the employees usually come help bag your groceries if they are not busy doing something else.  I had 3 reusable bags with me and started checking out all my stuff, sending it down the conveyor belt.  When there was a small pile starting to form, one of the men that worked there asked me if I would hand him my bags so he could start bagging my groceries.  So I did.

There were other people at the checkout who had various questions or issues, and he would stop and go help them, but then he was right back there helping me as soon as he was finished.  He also smiled at me a lot and seemed to be flirting a bit.  This guy was really short as men go, and since I am also extremely petite, I just figured he was attracted to me because I was one of the few women  who didn't tower over him.

I get home and start unloading my groceries in the kitchen.  In the bottom of the bag I notice something black and stretchy, and I think, "what is that?  Did one of us accidentally bag something that belongs to someone else?"  I pull the black thing out... and discover that it is a pair of my panties.  A lacy black thong, to be exact.  And then I remember the day that I had a change of clothes in that particular bag.

I immediately think of the guy that bagged my groceries.   At first I'm horrified, but then I remember him flirting with me, and it starts to become funny.  At least the panties were not one of my ratty pairs, or worse, NOT CLEAN.  I tell my boyfriend later, who thinks it's hilarious, and is sure that it gave that guy a cheap thrill.  I hope so, but then again, he might have told all of his co-workers at the store about the weird chick with the panties in her grocery bag.

I guess I'll just have to see if everyone smirks at me the next time I go shopping.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jack is kinky...

I saw this commercial aired just ONE TIME on TV about a year ago, and then never saw it again.  Guess the American public is just a little too "vanilla" for this one...  but check it out, it's hilarious!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Etsy new store items!

I wanted to post pics of some fun new stuff I just made, since I hardly ever write about my store!  (That's probably because I neglected it for the past few months, but shhhh... we don't need to go into that now, ha ha...)  See all the items, and my store by going here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/AutumnDamiana

Awesome 4-piece set!
1.  Here's an African/tribal/island jewelry set I just put together.  It's made from coconut beads, genuine aventurine, and these neeto silver beads that kinda remind me of zebras.

The set comes with a matching 24" necklace, 7" bracelet, and pair of earrings that hang about 2" from the ear.  The pendant itself is about 2 1/2" long, and I'm not sure what kind of stone it is.  If anyone does know, please feel free to share!

This just screams Samhain (or Halloween)

2.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this crescent moon necklace!  When I made this, I was thinking about the article I published in the 2013 Llewellyn's Magical Almanac called "Dark Moon Meditations."  (If you are interested in reading it, it is the very last one in the book!)  Anyway, The "pectoral" look of this necklace, as well as the bold silver crescents, iridescent beads, and black accents made me think of the paragraph in my article where I talk about dark Goddesses, namely Hecate.  I tried really hard to incorporate three moons into it, but the pieces just wouldn't cooperate and I ruined two of them trying to punch new holes and so finally gave up.  I ended up calling the necklace "Waxing and Waning" since that name seemed to fit it best.

Is hemp still cool?  Or am I stuck in the 90's?
I haven't made a hemp necklace in a very, VERY long time, but this pewter yin/yang pendant just seemed like it would work well with hemp... and I think it does!  If you look closely, you will also notice that it's not a traditional hemp necklace... the cords are much finer and more even.  That's because they are actually made out of linen!

There are black and clear beads and pewter spacers to match the pendant, which has black and clear rhinestones.  The back has a lobster claw clasp, also unlike a traditional hemp necklace, which was usually buttoned or tied on.  I think it turned out to be adorable, and I'm sure some hippie wannabe (like me) out there will love it as much as I do.  Besides, it's retro!

Sweet, simple, and timeless.
This is the last new piece I have for right now.  It's just some cute pewter charms (I guess I'm really into pewter right now...) strung on a pewter chain that I had.  And almost everyone loves celestial motifs!

The necklace is adjustable between 16" and 19", making it suitable for children or adults, and it can be worn as a choker or a longer necklace depending on the individual.  I think it would make a nice gift!

That's all... but new updates soon!  (I promise!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My fav Pagan movies.

Here is a picture of me right before I went to see "The Raven" some months ago.  I'm a fan of John Cusack, and I'm a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe.  So what's not to like!  I also want to point out that I'm wearing the awesome Poe scrabble tile necklace that I traded for on Etsy.  You can read about that and my awesome "Poe brick" artifact in my past post here:  http://autumndamiana.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-etsy-goodness-and-my-story-about.html

However, in this post I want to talk about "Pagan" movies.  I realize that I probably won't cover every well-loved Pagan movie, but here are 10 that made my list (more or less in order):

10.  Mirror, Mirror (2012):
Ok, once I got over the initial shock of OMG, I HAVEN'T SEEN GIANT FURRY BLACK CATERPILLAR EYEBROWS LIKE THAT SINCE JENNIFER CONNELY IN LABYRINTH!!! (sooo distracting...)  I thought this was a pretty good film.  Not fantastic, but fun and imaginative.  It also proves a point that I think Pagans understand better than anyone else:  there's nothing new under the sun, but everyone likes a well-told story, including one that's been told over and over before, especially if it's been modernized or given a new spin.  Because this also pretty much sums up religion in general.

9.  The Skeleton Key (2005):
NOT that into Kate Hudson.  Still, I liked this movie enough to buy it, and my opinion of it is remains good even after watching it several times.  The portrayal of Hoodoo in the movie is the reason why it made this list.  And I know, there’s a lot of stupid
Hollywood mumbo-jumbo thrown in as well, but ask yourself: how many other mainstream movies have you seen about Hoodoo?  The fact that it factors heavily into a mainstream movie is itself pretty cool.

8.  Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2 (2000):
So, I'm sure you are starting to see that I'm one of those people that really like "bad" movies (you know, the MST3K variety?) and this one is no exception.  I think it's great, in it's horribly-campy-crappy-sequel kinda way.  Naturally I love the fact that the movie contains a Wiccan ("Erica"), who bandies about a few actual Wiccan ideas, such as "we embrace nature, not evil" and talking about "the first law of Wicca is harm none - because whatever you do comes back on you threefold, and karma's a bitch."  Now granted, that's about it for actual Wiccan content, unless you count her large and very obvious pentacle and her going around saying "Blessed Be" and doing tarot and chanting. The "may I have permission to take this leaf?  THANK YOU!" scene is priceless.  So is her talking about Witches being a "persecuted minority" and the rants that follow.  And the scene where she invokes Persephone... alright, maybe this movie is a bad example.  But you can still laugh at Erica and her PERFECT portrayal of a Fluffy Bunny and lame Witch stereotype.

7.  The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988):
I'm including this movie because it is loosely based on the true findings of ethnobotanist and anthropologist Wade Davis, who investigated the zombie phenomenon in Haitian Voodoo (Vodoun)   society in the early 80's.  He discovered that the rumors of zombies were real, finding scientific evidence of one man's supposed death, "resurrection," and subsequent slavery as a zombie.  By going to Haiti, learning firsthand about Voodoo, and eventually participating in some of the ceremonies, Davis was able to understand how religion, culture, "zombie powder" (a potent poison used to drug the victims), and psychological manipulation caused the people targeted to behave like the living dead.  Davis hated this horror-movie adaptation of his book, but it's worth a look for its entertainment value and introduction to the subject.

6.  Various Miyazaki movies (1984-current):
If you are looking for quality, kid-friendly movies that are not only entertaining but that also impart Pagan morals, check out some of Hayao Miyazaki's films, such as "My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," and "Kiki's Delivery Service" (among others.) Miyazaki is known for portraying strong female characters, pacifists, the interplay between good and evil, and the existence of the spirit world around us.  Most of his films also have a clear message of conservation and environmentalism.  Little Witches will really enjoy "Kiki's Delivery Service," about a young Witch growing up and finding herself.  It's really adorable, and one of my favorites.

5.  The Craft (1996):
You would think that Pagans would hate this movie for all of the crazy, special-effect "witchcraft" shenanigans that happen in the second half, but apparently I'm not the only Pagan who likes it.  Personally, I dig the ritual scenes from the first part, which look quite a bit like what we actually do in our covens.  This movie is also on my list because it is was the first mainstream movie to portray Wicca, and despite steering people the wrong way on a lot of things, it got people interested in learning more about it.  That in turn promotes reading and discussion, two things that I don't think you can ever have enough of.

4.  The Secret of Roan Inish (1994):
Another good family movie, this one is set in Ireland and weaves a tale of a selkie and her connection to a little girl named Fiona and her Irish family.  Selkies are seals that can come to land and shed their seal skins to become human, in some cases having romances with other humans and often even marrying or having children with them.  In this movie, Fiona discovers that her rumored selkie ancestor may be the reason for her little brother's disappearance.  This movie is chock-full of both nautical and Irish folklore, and should definitely be watched by anyone who has a strong love of the sea.

3.  All the Harry Potter movies (2001-2011):
I think these are awesome Pagan movies... and with Harry Potter, you either get it, or you don't (and if you don't, you probably don't like it.)  Harry Potter's world is fun and entertaining enough that it obviously falls under the "fantasy" and "make-believe" categories, but when you look a little deeper, it is amazing how much actual magical and metaphysical content there is in the books, and by extension, the movies.  Names, mythology, herb and gemstone correspondences, divination, even magical theory to some extent can all be found here. Both the movies and the books also teach some valuable moral lessons, in my opinion. And whether you like Harry Potter or not, as a modern fairy tale, it seems destined to become a classic, and it has had a huge impact on Paganism.  Read Starhawk's 2001 essay, "Why I like Harry Potter" here:  http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/harrypotter.html

2.  Avatar (2009):
I've heard "Avatar" being described as "Dances With Wolves - but in space."  I guess that description is not that far off, when you really think about it, except that the natives win at the end of "Avatar."  We all know, on the other hand, how things turned out for the Native Americans:  NOT SO GREAT.  But anyway, this movie is my #2 pick is for three simple reasons:
1.  The ecology and sustainability (this includes social sustainability) among the Na'vi.
2.  The worship of Eywa, a nature-based Mother Goddess of Pandora (perhaps the planet itself.)
3.  The reality of both of these portrayed as natural, concrete, definitive facts of life.
I mean, what Pagan doesn't envy the Na'vi to be able to plug in and access their Goddess and their ancestors like that, or to live in complete harmony with their people and their surroundings?  I realize that not everyone is like me and wants to go live in trees and scrounge around in the forest for all their needs, but I think that almost every Pagan who watches this movie wishes on some level, however small, that they too could visit Pandora or make Earth a little more like it.

1.  The Wicker Man:  (1973):
Yeah, yeah, I know... this is almost every Pagan's favorite movie.  But damn it, it's just so much fun, despite how dated it is.  Supposedly Alex Sanders even consulted on the movie, which is what gives it it's authentic feel where Paganism is concerned.  And even if you've never seen the movie, I'm sure you already know that the Pagans are the "bad guys," but that won't keep you from rooting for them anyway.  Seriously, if you have never seen this, check it out.  It should be mandatory viewing for anyone with a broom and/or a pointy hat.