fayanora: Chloe (Chloe)
Got some face painting sticks, IE face paint in a marker type form, from Amazon. The bit on my hand is a test, the shape is the symbol for the SH sound from the syllabary (alphabet, but each character is a specific sound) for my Trai’Pahg’Nan’Nog conlang. Once the test had been on there for hours without any sign of reaction, I drew the Eye of Grah’Bahn design on my arm.

I got these face paint sticks because I had an idea about drawing sigils and other symbols on myself with them, for magick/ritual purposes, as well as for another way to express myself. I’m pondering making stripes or something on my arms, like some of my deities have.

Pictures under the cut.

I'ma cut you! )
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
My brain gave me a funny image just now, an image I will have to pre-explain a bit before I reveal it.

If you're new, or you just forgot, or you never knew the full gravity of it, one of the major religions of Traipah is a religion called Gosgolot (all the o's in it say their names, IE gohs-goh-loht). Gosgolot's teachings state that the universe is unimaginably old, unimaginably enormous, and unimaginably terrifying. They do not name their Gods, out of fear that saying the names would attract their attention, and one does not generally want the attention of Gosgolot deities. (One exception is Zyao'Ḥyn (zyow-[throat-clearing][I as in "eye"]n), their version of Shao'Kehn, but that's another story.) The most notable of these Nameless Gods is their sun, which non-Gosgolots call Naipah. (This is acceptable to Gosgolots because Naipah is not actually the star's name, according to their ancient texts.) They refer to the sun by a myriad of euphemistic titles like The Howling One, The Widowmaker, Howler Into The Void, Water's Demise, etc.

Gosgolot, interestingly, predates any kind of science that would have given them the idea of a vast, cold, merciless universe. When science confirmed the size of the universe prior to The Reformation, the one group that took the news the best was the Gosgolots, who felt vindicated. Gosgolot is basically a religion in which ideas the likes of which you'd see in Lovecraft's works are taken seriously; very seriously. Their scripture reads like horror stories, though interestingly on a larger scale, the universe - vast and old as it is - is just one of countless infinities of universes, all of which are living beings that are born, grow old, breed, and die; making everything that happens in our universe just the inner workings of a lifeform that - in its own time scale - exists for but a blink of an eye in the lifespan of the greater multiverse, a Megaverse as large and terrifying to our universe as our universe is to us, and then the proverbial "turtles" all the way both up AND down.

So the funny image my brain gave me was a meeting between a Gosgolot and a Christian Creationist. The Gosgolot would find the Creationist's earth-centric view laughable naive, the idea that the planet was only 5 or 6 thousand years old would probably cause them to die from busting a gut laughing, and if they survived that, they'd think the idea of a god as powerful as Yahweh being benevolent was fucking insanity! Especially after reading the Bible. After reading the Bible, doubtless they would have another God to be terrified of.

More under the cut )
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)

Picture I drew of one of the Aspects of my primary Deity, Djao’Kain. The Aspect’s name is Shao’Vara. Xe is an Aspect representing Death, Mystery, the Death Mysteries, and the transformative side of death. Xer face is covered by a featureless mask to represent mystery (especially the mystery of the Afterlife) as well as the faceless and uncaring truth of death. Xe is wrapped in a burial shroud (in the culture on Traipah that Xe is from, burial shrouds are black), and the hands holding fire are both torches and symbols of pallbearers; though in that culture, pallbearers don’t carry a body to be buried, they carry it to where the corpse can be liquefied. The liquefied remains are fed to Memorial Trees, which are old-growth trees fed the remains of everyone from a particular family that dies, with plaques installed in their trunks. Those plaques have names, birthdates, and death dates of those whose remains were fed to the tree. Traipah has whole forests full of Memorial Trees, called Memorial Forests.

The three moons of Traipah are also visible in this picture. One is full, two are crescent. One of the crescent moons is tiny, right to the left of Shao-Vara’s head. The paved road is mainly to try to give a sense of perspective. Shao’Vara, wrapped in Xer burial shroud, kneels on a cliff. Not pictured is the ocean the cliff is overlooking, because I didn’t know how to draw that in a way that added to the mystery (or at least did not subtract from it).

I originally wanted to draw Shao’Vara as Xe first appeared to me in a vision, where Xe was nude and emaciated, with one saggy breast and another shriveled up, but I didn’t know how to draw that.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
I keep finding, more and more all the time, that worldbuilding and/or writing in my Traipah storyverse is how I deal with things in my own life I need to work on. Sometimes it's something in a story that points to something in me I need to pay attention to, like how for years and years there were things happening in the stories or worldbuilding stuff that had to do with Multiplicity, long before I consciously recognized that that's what it was, and that it meant I was a Multiple too. Or how the entire societal structure of Traipah is ideal for me, or how the Ah'Koi Bahnis are basically all autistic by human standards.

Or, as in my latest project, a short story about a human visiting Traipah and going to something called Tahl'Bahn Continental Civic Park (like a National Park, but Traipah doesn't really have nations), which is in fact a centuries-old graveyard of sorts, where all the trees are grave markers, because they have a number of ways of disposing of the dead that are eco-friendly and end up with the remains being used to feed the Grave Tree, or "Memory Tree" (Coi'liir'morHK) as they call it. (Including Resomation, which is a real thing on Earth, and when I die I want to be Resomated.) So this particular civic park is a centuries-old forest made by people, because it was a former strip mine that nature was having little luck reclaiming after the Reformation, so they planted soil there, and started planting Memory Trees. I'm also going to include something I read about recently, where the dead body is put in the fetal position inside a biodegradable pod, and the sapling is planted just right so the roots go into the pod and use the decomposing body as food. (I even have a version that combines the pod idea with the Resomation idea.) And it's a very popular place to put people who have died, and as I mentioned it is centuries old, so here you have miles and miles of forest that's a mix of trees of all ages, and species. (Because everyone has their own idea of what kind of tree they want to feed when they die.) There may even be family trees: ancient trees that keep getting new remains added to their soil every time a member of that family dies. So, basically, you have new life arising from death, in a place that was once stripped bare of all life in the hunt for coal.

Now, some people have commented that this is a creepy idea, that such a forest would be creepy. And as I told one such person, yeah, sure it's creepy, if you live in a culture that fears death and shuns the dead. But Traipahni society isn't like that. The people of Traipah are very Pagan, both in the polytheist sense and the "revering nature" sense,1 and while this giant forest and others like it are pretty popular - worldwide - on Traipah, they generally do not have that desire to segregate the dead and the living the way we do. There are Memory Trees inside Traipahni cities, just like normal trees in Portland are everywhere, and several very popular Memory Tree species are fruit trees. There are even entire Memory Tree orchards, their fruits mainly used for strictly religious/spiritual purposes. This isn't seen as even a tiny bit creepy to the people of Traipah, because they're not afraid of the dead. They're not afraid of ghosts. They believe that ghosts can happen, but they aren't afraid of them. Their basic view of our fear of ghosts would be like an adult's view of a child who was afraid of the dark. (Or maybe a child afraid of rabbits.) To them, ghosts are harmless at worst, revered as proof of the afterlife at best.

For me, this represents both a little of my own views, and views I would like to have. I am afraid of dying, because that's the culture I was raised in. But I want to be unafraid, or at least merely nervous as opposed to the overwhelming terror I feel when I let myself really think about dying, by the time it happens. The Ah'Koi Bahnis... I wouldn't say they're unafraid of dying, but the subject of death isn't segregated from the rest of life like it is with us. Us, we put our dead in special areas underground and/or behind tall fences, often outside city limits if we can, marking the graves with stark stone slabs or statues, as if to highlight the fact that they are places of death. All graveyards I've seen have a kind of uniform, sterile, non-living quality to them, even when they have trees and bushes in them. And we don't talk about death much unless we have to, and when we do, we often joke about it to disguise our discomfort and fear.

Whereas the people of Traipah consider death just another part of life, both figuratively and literally. The dead are not viewed like a candle flame snuffed out forever, but as just another form of life. In fact, to them dying is like the reverse of being born, but they don't view conception and birth the same way we do, either; they don't view it as creating a new life, but as creating a new vessel for an existing life-form... a life form of pure energy, an immortal spirit come to have a mortal experience, which it will do again and again after it "dies." This is deeply ingrained in their culture. It even bleeds into aspects of their culture that aren't immediately apparent. Like, thanking the spirits that once inhabited what has become their food, for their sacrifice, and wishing them well on their journey in the "between-life."2 This makes sense for animals eaten by the Duenicallo and Shaokennah, but even the Ah'Koi Bahnis do this for the plants they eat. In farming/gardening, the person picking fruits or removing other parts of a plant that will continue to live after this is done to them, that person will ask permission first before harvesting, and then apologize for the necessity and thank the plant for its sacrifice. It is considered just as heinous to mistreat an animal or plant as it is to mistreat a person, but most Ah'Koi Bahnis (though herbivores themselves) have no problem with the Duenicallo or Shaokennah eating meat, so long as the animals are treated with respect and compassion, and the proper rituals are observed (those thanks and apologies mentioned before), because they don't view plants as being any less intelligent or less worthy of respect than animals, and therefore see little difference between killing an animal for food as they do their own killing a plant for food. Also, they're very friendly with the Duenicallo, and the Duenicallo are obligate carnivores. And, thus, most AKB would look down their noses at anyone who claimed that merely being a meat eater was a lapse of morality. (Though they freak the fuck out at factory farms. The cruelty aside, the very notion of treating any living being like a mere product or resource is utterly reprehensible to them, and so, much about capitalism in general would have them going ballistic on people. The animal cruelty would turn that into "going nuclear" on people.)3

I got a little off track there. But basically, living beings are spirits residing in a vessel.4

So yeah, I strive to change my own view of death 100% over to the Traipahni view of it, to transmute the terror of dying to something easier to deal with, by the time my time finally comes. Because while I do believe those same things, it's not the culture I grew up with, and so it's not deeply ingrained like it should be.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Note: "MorHKahr seh Coi'liir" means "Forest of Memory," and in IPA it is pronounced Moʊrxɑ:r se kɔɪLɪəʳ (The x being a voiceless velar frictive.)

1 = Monotheism didn't exist on Traipah until the humans introduced it, and even then it never really took off; monotheists are an extreme minority on Traipah, and what few there are are more pantheistic than anything else. The closest Traipah came to inventing monotheism was a bi-theistic religion that was once popular.

2 = Since they view death as part of an infinite cycle in the incarnation cycle of spirits, they don't call it the afterlife, they call it the between-life, as in "between one lifetime and the next." It is viewed as a place for spirits to rest and relax before reincarnating again.

3 = Now, you might think with this, that their attitude toward abortion is pretty stern, and... well... you wouldn't be wrong, at least insofar as it applies to species native to Traipah. But it's... complicated. The Ah'Koi Bahnis have a remarkable degree of control of their own reproductive system (well, all races of AKB except the Yaingah do), and if they don't want to get pregnant, they simply don't. Whereas the other two sophont species can only get pregnant at certain times of the year, so if they avoid having sex at those times, they don't have to worry about getting pregnant. The Yaingah race of AKB don't have that ability. But there's nothing against contraception. Unlike a lot of humans, Traipahni people generally don't have any special feelings about conception. In fact, abortions up to a certain point are perfectly acceptable to most of them, because they generally don't believe the spirit has "moved in" to the body it's created, until the embryo is sufficiently developed to be able to survive outside the womb, with help. Abortions are always legal there, right up until just before birth, though any abortion done after the first quarter is generally frowned upon. (AKB have a 12 month gestation, divided into 4 quarters of 3 months each.) Socially speaking, AKB don't care what the other two species do in regards to abortion. Legally speaking, abortion is legal any time before birth. Since Traipahni people can impregnate themselves as well as others, paternity is hard to determine, and the father has no rights regarding the baby before it's born anyway, because the sanctity of bodily autonomy is one of the major sacred laws. The only time abortion is considered murder is if it's done to the pregnant person against their will. (Which also violates the sanctity of bodily autonomy.) And a conception resulting from rape or coercion/force is legally considered an artifact of the assault, and so there are no negative social or legal consequences of either aborting it or choosing to let it live, nor for either giving away the child or choosing to keep it and raise it.

4 = Until an outside spirit chooses to "move in" to a baby in a womb, the fetus is considered to be entirely filled with the mother's own spirit. And even after the outside spirit has moved in, the body still contains the mother's spirit as well, and since the mother was there first, she has first claim over it, until after birth. Then it "belongs" entirely to the baby's spirit.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
I have updated The Yahgahn Statements of Faith (DW) (LJ), and Basic Sophont Responsibilities (DW) (LJ). I added the following to the Statements:

As a sub-point of "all sophonts have inherent worth and dignity, and are my brethren," I added the following points:

- What a person does with their own body, and who a person chooses to share their body with, and how, is nobody's concern but their own, and/or of the person or people they choose to share it with, regardless of their age. If they are capable of reason, capable of making choices, their choices are to be respected and not opposed or hindered, no matter what those choices are, so long as they do not violate the bodily integrity of another. (Assaults to the brain are included in this. Intrusions into the mind via telepathy or mere emotional manipulation are a bit of a grey area.)
- What a person wishes to have done, or not have done, to their body, is to be respected even in death, no matter what those choices are, so long as they do not violate the bodily integrity of another. The autonomy and integrity of a sophont's body is not to be violated, regardless of their age, as long as they are capable of reason, and capable of making choices for themselves. Any form of violation is an affront.

I also added this under "knowledge is sacred":

- As such, destruction of knowledge or art is an abomination and cannot be tolerated.

And the following was added to the Responsibilities:

9. Respect the autonomy and integrity of the bodies of your fellow sophonts. It is the most fundamental right for people of all ages to do with their own body as they please, and to refuse to have things done to their body without their permission even after they have died. Any form of violation of this right is an affront. Not permitting anyone who has achieved the ability to reason to do with their body as they will, counts as a violation of their bodily autonomy as well. Their choices in regard to their own body are theirs to make, and it is not your place to question those choices, nor to interfere.

Also modified the wording of #6 to add "or other things" to the list of potential differences.
fayanora: Picard facepalm (Picard facepalm)
There's this New Age belief (which often infects pagans too) that says, basically, that the universe wants you to be happy, and if you remove all negative thinking and BELIEVE hard enough, all your wishes will come true; or, at least, you'll become abundant.

Now, I do believe in magick, but I have several problems with that way of thinking. First, the world is more complicated than that. Magick, including prayer, can only do so much. It can influence the world in your favor, but it's a bit like nudging a speeding meteor so it just barely misses hitting the planet. Sometimes it works, other times the meteor hits you and it's back to clubs and spears. No matter how hard you try, sometimes magick just doesn't work. So the problem with that New Age philosophy of "the universe wants you to be happy," is that it contradicts the evidence. All the evidence is that the universe is in fact a cold, uncaring expanse of void spattered with matter and energy, that has laws of quantum physics that allow consciousness to influence the matter and energy in the universe, but only a tiny bit." Magick is basically 5%, maybe 10% the magick part, and 90% to 95% real-world hard work.

Second, the whole notion sounds very privileged to me, something obviously thought up by people who have had little or no experience with the real world, much less of being poor. And they get people to believe it either by those people also being very privileged, or by people being desperate to believe that if they believe hard enough, they can better their lot in life; people who need to have something to blame that they have no control over, when it fails. I know, because I used to believe that malarkey. I used it as a means of hope, I used it as an excuse for why it wasn't working, and thus I blamed myself for not trying hard enough when it didn't work. It may or may not have been intended to be victim blaming, but that's what it often is.

Third, it sounds suspiciously like the belief of many Christians that God rewards people He loves and approves of with material abundance/wealth, an idea that is mostly used to justify victim-blaming poor people. Like, "Oh you're homeless? You must be praying wrong, or to the wrong God." The same thing happens a lot with people who believe in karma. "Oh you're homeless, you must have been horrible to homeless people in a past life." It's a nice little way to deflect the realities of the world, and continue to live on in blissful ignorance, rather than taking a hard look at reality and recognizing that it takes a lot of hard work and compassion and understanding to make the world a better place. Which, frankly, is true even if karma is real. The people who blame the homeless person for being horrible to poor people in a past life are, in turn, being horrible to poor people in this life. But they're so caught up in victim blaming as a reality deflection tool, that they're not stopping to think that they may be setting themselves up for a hard life in their next life. Or maybe they don't care, since their current ego will be dead and they won't remember any of this. Either way, the result is the same: keep yourself in blissful ignorance, not bothering to put forth the effort to better the world, because hey, karma, so it's their fault they're poor.

Furthermore, that kind of thinking assumes some kind of universal Overmind that is capable of understanding and caring about human beings, in a universe that is unfathomably fucking enormous. The smallest electron in the smallest atom is closer in scale to our sun than our sun is to the local galactic supercluster, and the local galactic supercluster is to the universe at large as the electron is to the galactic supercluster. And that may well be a severe understatement. So it seems pretty absurd and egotistical to me to assume the univere's Overmind is even capable of noticing humans, much less of giving even a tiny speck of shit about us and our welfare. Now maybe there's - I dunno - some kind of local solar system Deity that can help people out, but even then, there are problems.

Because really, even if the universe (or the solar system deity) DOES want you to be happy, that doesn't change the fact that the rules of this universe prevent it from being a magical cure-all, so the result is the same: you have to recognize that 90% and stop thinking the 10% is all you need, stop blaming others for being victims of circumstance, and stop blaming yourself when things aren't going your way.

And like I told my roommate, who was also complaining about the same thing, a good thing to say to people who say that kind of bullshit is "Oh, so I take it you think the victims of the Holocaust asked to die horrifically by Nazi hands? What about the victims of other genocides? Or ebola patients that die? What did the millions of First Nations people who died because of European invaders do to deserve that? Are you telling me that the slaves imported from Africa called that upon themselves?" Because there's only one of three possible reactions to that: 1. "Holy shit, you're right! I'm wrong!" 2. "Of course not! [Insert some convoluted logical labyrinth to attempt to plug the logic hole.] or 3. "Yes, they did."

I can't speak for y'all, but the only people of those three options that *I* want to be spending any more time with are the ones who realize that they were wrong.
fayanora: arch (arch)
Something else that occurred to me while watching that Taking of Deborah Logan movie, was that it made me remember a dream I had once where I was using Shao-Kehn's name and symbol (in the icon) to ward off demons and ghosts. Which was pretty awesome, I must say. And remembering that made me think about the Christian god, and how he's supposed to be this loving forgiving god (if you discount the old testament shit, which doesn't jive with the new testament), then something they said in the movie about cleansing with fire mixed around in my head with other ideas, and from there I had the thought, "What use is that kind of god anyway?" Because basically, I don't understand why you would want that kind of a god in a fight with a demon. I dunno about other people but if something scary was attacking me, *I* would want something scary that was on my side, to face it. Which is what Shao'Kehn is. She is a kind, loving, comforting, motherly Deity, but also She can be fucking terrifying when She needs to be.

In fact, that dream is not entirely just a dream. I have entered places with ghosts in them before, and felt them just long enough to know that the instant they see me, they flee in terror. I have become convinced that they're sensing Shao'Kehn, it's really the only explanation, as I myself am not scary.

LOL, had another thought, and it's funny. Now I'm wondering what Harry Dresden would see if he used his Sight on me. :-D I imagine he would see my protective sphere of red-hot barbed wire and razor wire and flames that is my empathic shield, only more intense because it would be Shao-Kehn's protective sphere rather than an empath shield. And Her burning eyes inside. But he would probably get a sense that She was benevolent, if a bit Protective Mama Bear like.

But yeah, it would be cool to see a horror film where a Pagan priest/ess is performing the exorcism, rather than a Catholic priest.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
For those of you who don't know already, I am an empath. I can feel people's emotions. I may not always understand their causes, but I feel the emotions, even when I don't know somebody is in the room, I can feel their emotions.

Secondly, for most of my life I could not shield worth shit, which meant that it would all come in whether I wanted to or not, and my only recourse when things got too much, was to drown out the noise with music. Whenever I would try to shield, I would imagine this blue bubble that didn't fucking work and took too much energy to maintain, so it just made things worse. For years I have struggled with this problem, trying and failing time and again to shield, to no avail.

So imagine my surprise when, a week or so ago, I'm walking along trying to shield with the blue bubble and, without my even thinking about it, with literally no warning at all, this crappy blue bubble I'm attempting to shield with spontaneously turns the reddish orange color of Chaos Fire and becomes a mix of Chaos Fire, red-hot razor wire, and red-hot metal spikes. Like, one instant I'm struggling to keep the blue bubble from collapsing, and the next instant there's this burning iron sphere of razor wire and spikes around me, and magickal heat radiating from me. What's more astonishing, IT WORKS. It is doing precisely what a shield should do, which is to keep other emotions out. And I did not create it myself; I was literally startled by its sudden manifestation. I suspect Djao'Kain, AKA Shao'Kehn, did it.

Now, looking back, it seems obvious that this should be the solution. I know what I was doing wrong all this time! First, blue is not the color of my magick. A chaos magick book I read once talked about octarine, the color of magic, an idea borrowed from Terry Pratchett. It went on to say that what octarine looks like is a very personal thing, different for every magick user. Even before being introduced to that idea, I've long known that the color of my magick is the reddish-orange of Djao-Kain's Chaos Fire, because She and I are linked (I am one of who knows how many avatars She has). So naturally, something like a shield should be imagined in octarine, using the color of one's personal color of magick.

Secondly, bubbles are somewhat permeable, which is bad for a shield, as a shield is meant to keep stuff out.

Third, blue is the color of water, and even though I'm a water sign, my magick is fire magick.

Fourth, the best defense is a good offense, and nothing quite says "offensive defense" like a sphere made of red-hot razor wire and iron spikes. And fucking magickal heat like it's coming from a steel forge, just to emphasize the point.

That's not to say I'd never tried fire before that day. There were times I tried making the bubble out of blue fire. Why blue fire, I don't know, but that didn't work much better than simple blue light did. Also, I will admit that this burning sphere of red-hot razor wire and spikes did not come completely out of the blue; I've used that exact thoughtform in another kind of defense, the "there is another human being out here while I'm walking at night, so I will use this to make sure they leave me alone" kind of defense. So I guess some part of me was just like, "Seriously, girl, that blue bubble is fucking annoying and useless. Here, use this."

So yeah, fifth: the fact it was something I'd been using a lot for something else added to its power and effectiveness. It had already been made, so it just slid into place from within me like it had done on numerous other occasions.

And sixth, just because I love the number 6 so much: WOOT.

Anyway, I got reminded of this all because I used this new shield again today, on the bus, and holy SHIT it was effective. The shape of the shield was deformed by my proximity to other humans, but the instant it came up, I felt much better.
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
Text and picture reposted from this Tumblr post. It might make more sense if you read the Tumblr version, since I think this excerpt makes references to things in other peoples' comments, and I don't feel like reposting the entire thing here.

The original picture:

My part of the post:

I totally get Tedd’s shock. I became aware of the concept of transgender pretty early on, around 15 or 16, but it didn’t really fit me. I started identifying as a trans woman online more out of it being the closest I knew to what I was, but privately had no idea what to think of myself as. At least, not until I read about the term “hermaphrodite.” Well, actually, the progression went more like this: A. Read term “hermaphrodite,” started using it to describe the people of this story I’d started to write, and their religion. B. Did not apply the term to myself. C. Figured out I was trans or something like it. D. Became obsessed with that story I was writing enough that I adopted the religion I’d made for them. E. Realized only then that I was closer to “hermaphrodite” than I was to male or female, and so privately began to identify as such. F. Realized I’m Otherkin, as one of the Ah’Koi Bahnis people I was writing about, which deepened the connection to “hermaphrodite.” G. Didn’t hear the term gender-fluid til… well, it’s hard to say. Only a few years ago, I think. I think I read it on Tumblr, but I can’t be sure. I have a bad habit of hearing information relevant to me and then watching it take months or even years to process it enough that I finally think “Hey wait, that’s me!”
A whole lot more )

Representation matters!

One more note )
fayanora: pensive (pensive)
I want to talk about cultural appropriation, because it is not an easy concept, and yet it is SO easy. So I'm going to try to simplify things for those who don't understand.

Cultural appropriation means to take something from another culture that is not your own and use it against the will of the culture in question, especially if done in a mocking way. But even things used respectfully can be cultural appropriation. It's like consent in sex, a little. If the culture says no, if enough people in that culture don't like you doing that thing that is theirs, then it is cultural appropriation.

Even converting to another religion can be cultural appropriation, under the right circumstances. For instance, modern Zoroastrianism does not take converts. You are either born into the religion or you are not, and there is no coming into Zoroastrianism if you are a convert. If someone tells you they have converted to Zoroastrianism, they are lying whether they know it or not, and you should probably inform them that claiming to be a convert to a religion that does not take converts is cultural appropriation.

Furthermore, converting to a religion that does take converts can still be cultural appropriation if their religion either requires or strongly suggests the convert have a guide who is already a member of the religion to teach them their ways. You can't, for example, just toss a skullcap on your head and call yourself a Jew, because there are too many rules you have to know, and the best people to learn these rules from are Jews themselves. If you convert to Judaism without another Jew to help you, you 1. Are not really a convert anyway. and 2. Are committing cultural appropriation.

One form of cultural appropriation that applies to the religion thing as well to other things from different cultures, is done via unintentional mockery. Your intentions can be completely respectful, but if you don't know what you are doing, you will not only make a fool of yourself, but also make unintentional mock of whatever culture you've appropriated. For instance, the "Judaism self-convert" who eats pork and wears the skullcap incorrectly, or the "wigger" who thinks he's being cool and honoring Black culture by becoming a caricature of one small aspect of that culture.

Side note: Some people do not understand why cultural appropriation is bad. But consider something... imagine you are a devout Christian, and some fool comes along from a country where Christianity is a minority; he knows little about Christianity, but tries to convert himself to it. His attempt has him wearing the cross upside down, getting Jesus's name terribly wrong, going to "church" on the wrong day, and he can't even tell you any of the 10 commandments or any of Jesus's teachings, but goes around dressed like a cartoonish mockery of Jesus, snacking on communion wafers and canned cheese. Even if some people find this very funny, a lot more will be VERY pissed off. Even if his intentions were pure, he is making unintentional mock of someone else's culture. [ End side note ]

But it can go the other way, too. I've seen a lot, lately, of people saying things are cultural appropriation which are not. People saying that having spirit animals is cultural appropriation is one example. They've got this notion that spirit animals are only from First Nations culture, which they view as a monoculture, without realizing that spirit animals come from shamanism, which is a blanket term for practices that exist in thousands of cultures the world over and in the past. They forget that there is shamanism in their own ancestry, and therefore having a spirit animal cannot be cultural appropriation unless they're claiming it as part of something else, like if the person is claiming to be a member of First Nations spirituality when they aren't. If you are not part of a First Nation/Native American tribe, as recognized by the tribal leaders, then you cannot be a member of their religion. If you want to go into shamanism, fine; shamanism is not tied to a specific culture and everyone's cultures can trace back to shamanistic roots, so being a shaman is fine. Just don't try to be a shaman of a culture that is not your own.

So, in essence, before you adopt a practice into your life, do some research, and ask yourself the following questions first:
* Is it something tied to a specific culture?
* Are you doing this thing properly?
* Are you doing this thing respectfully?
* Have you done research first (and I mean real research, not just 5 or 20 minutes Googling it)?
* If it is tied to a specific culture, do you have permission from the leadership of that culture to do it?
* If any members of that culture told you to stop doing that, do they still tell you to stop after being shown proof that their leadership is okay with it? ("Leadership approves" clause does not apply to cultures with no recognized hierarchical leaders, and therefore if more than a handful of people in that culture disapprove, you should stop doing it.)

If you answer "No" to any of those questions, you should probably not do the thing. Though admittedly, as evidenced by that last question, things are not always so cut and dry. Like I said at the beginning, it is both an easy concept and a difficult one. Even moreso than consent in sex, because you're not just dealing with the consent of one person, in cultural appropriation.

But ultimately, the point trying to be made by calls of cultural appropriation is that people just want to be treated with dignity and respect, and that means treating their culture with dignity and respect. It isn't always easy to know how to go about doing this, especially if something from their culture exerts a strong pull on your soul, but the point is to try, to ask the people who are already in that culture, and to LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY. Because if you don't, then you're just being an asshole.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
So a few days ago I got mildly annoyed that in the printed out version of my Kusahnia picture, Her skin is so dark it's hard to make out details. Which inspired me to make a copy of the original .ora file, open it, and go through a series of steps to get rid of the skin color so I could put new skin color in a layer beneath the lines, because it was a picture I drew before I began experimenting with layers. It turned out pretty well, and I will be posting it here:

Under the cut )

Also, yesterday I began the same process for Kusahnjijahn, but since She has more skin showing, it took longer to do. In fact, because of a back ache, I gave up before I was done cleaning up the image. I'll post it once it's done.

I'll not be redoing Kiin'Djahn, however. Or Ahgoi. Those stripes... I have no effing clue how to even BEGIN shading skin that's striped.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
I added a background and new text to my picture of Kiishiiya, my Eternal Guardian Spirit:

Under the cut )
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
Well I've done some new art recently. First, I traced over an old picture I'd scanned in of Shao'Kehn so I could improve it by colorizing it. Then I did a picture of Jiijiinis and Alorno, deities of Health and Healing. I *was* gonna give them coral skin, but the set of corals/pinks I chose looked weird on them. So I changed to something more human. That annoys me, because I wanted non-human colors, but oh well. At least their hair is still green.

By the way, in case you forgot, Jiijiinis and Alorno are Vaishan, meaning their appearance - like Earth Chinese or Japanese people - is basically what people of the continent of Vaish tend to look like.

I am very proud of the Shao'Kehn pic for one important reason. For a long time, I have known in my mind's eye that Shao'Kehn's eyes are like backlit amber, and I have finally managed to figure out how to make Her eyes look backlit! WEE!!! Partly it was getting the right colors and doing them right, second part of it was putting some of the eye color in Her face's skin to suggest light from Her eyes lighting up Her face.

Under the cut for lots of big pictures. )

1 = When Shao'Kehn first came out of The Chaos, She was VERY angry, and challenged Ahndahn (the source of Her fury) to a duel. They fought and fought, neither winning, then fell in love with each other. Now they work together to keep the Universe balanced. The "Angry Eyes" picture is a representation of what Ahndahn saw when Shao'Kehn first arose.
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
I, a neo-mythos neo-pagan who lives in the city, prefer electric tea lights for practical reasons. Sure, I like regular candles too, because - as Buffy said, "Fire pretty." However, I live in an apartment with a smoke detector that goes off even when the room gets too steamy, let alone smoky, and my regular candles put out a fuckton of soot and smoke. (And I use 6 pillar candles and 2 taper candles when I use real candles.) Hence electric tea lights (other electric candles would be nice, but are too pricey), which have the same flickering quality as regular candles.

Plus, no chance of catching the house on fire, spilling hot wax on the carpet, or overheating the room with electric tea lights. I can also keep the fan on without the electric candles guttering and/or going out. Also, if they do go out, the batteries can be replaced, though it would probably be cheaper to buy new ones. And I'm gonna go find out sometime if this place that recycles electronics and appliances will take used up electric tea lights to recycle. If not, well... maybe someone has some idea how to reuse them somehow. I know, at least, that there are places to take the spent batteries.

Oh, and it would be cool if I could go to the cement stonehenge replica across from Briggs, Oregon whenever I wanted. And if I did, all the wind up there would make regular candles kind of pointless. Maybe next winter solstice I'll take some electric tea lights with me on the pagan meetup's trip up there, just in case they're willing to use them.

Honestly, though, if I had my way and money was no object, I'd live in a proper house with a fire pit in the back yard as an altar, just like the Shao'Bahn temples in some of my Traipah stories have. Of course, I would have to learn how to make fire without accelerants, or use something like alcohol as an accelerant because it smells the least objectionable. Because I need plenty of room to dance around a fire, singing.

Barring that, I would love to have an entire altar room, altar in the middle of the room. The room would be big enough to dance around in, would have a stone or cement floor, be on the ground floor, would have GREAT acoustics, and be soundproofed from the rest of the house so as to not bother others. Because whenever I have the opportunity to do so, I am quite boisterous and energetic, getting a lot of exercise during ritual. (And I would do more rituals if I had such an altar room.)

Oh, and the outdoor altar would need to have fences or whatnot to keep out prying eyes, hopefully from people inside the house as well, since I would want to be nude if possible.

But, in the meantime, electric tea lights.

And lastly, it would be cool if I could buy an old church and let anyone - especially pagans - come in to use it as a ritual space.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
It used to be, back in Iowa, that whenever I did a ritual or other magick, it would rain. Which was no coincidence because Iowa air hoards water like a miser hoards money. So it was like the magick shook loose the water into rain.

Because it usually rains a lot in Portland, Oregon, I haven't been paying attention to any magick/rain correlations. But we've been in a kind of drought lately, it hasn't - to my knowledge - rained for weeks, which is highly unusual for Portland in the winter.

So imagine my surprise when I finally end a weeks (maybe even months) long ritual drought of my own by doing a ritual last night, mostly to calm myself down but also just because, and the next day I go outside and it's raining. Coincidence? I doubt it, in this case.

And because we've needed it so badly, I've taken to chanting a sort of magickal song I came up with, partly in English and partly in Trai'pahg'nan'nog:

      Praise unto the rain, unto the rain, unto the rain!
      Make this rain sustain, and maintain, maybe gain!
      Praise unto the rain, unto the rain, unto the rain!
      Make this rain sustain, and maintain, maybe gain!

And various other rhymes, like "rain falls on the earth, on the earth, fills us with mirth" or "assuage our pain" to rhyme with rain, and so on.

TPNN part:

      Viishoo ahgahg ahlahr, gweb-piikyl, gweb-piikyl!
      (vee shoo ah gog ah larr, gweb peek uhl, gweb peek uhl)


      Maintain/sustain current/present action, rain, rain!

And of course the alternate:

      Viishoo ahgahg ahlahr, ahgahg ahlahr, ahgahg ahlahr, gwebpiikyl, gwebpiikyl!


      Maintain/sustain current/present action, current/present action, rain, rain!

And I have now been doing it long enough today that it's going through my head, which I don't mind in this case.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
So last night I started a new drawing project: Jiijiinis and Alorno, the Yahgahn deities of Health and Healing. And this time, I decided to make them Vaishan, IE from the continent of Vaysh. (Which, incidentally, is also the TPNN word for the color "peach." But is not really connected to anything in particular.) What does this mean? Well, Ah'Koi Bahnis don't have races in the same sense that humans do, since their version of different races is actual sub-species. The childlike Guiimihn, the freshwater-dwelling Gweb'neb, the saltwater-dwelling Kok'lihg, and the Sah'djaid - who can be as much as 10 feet tall, and a 6-foot tall Sah'djaid would be *short* - are just a few examples of AKB "races." The dominant AKB race is Tiir'gihn, who evolved from the now-extinct Ihg'dahk.

Vaysh has a high percentage of a race called Yaingah living there. Outwardly, they look no different from the Tiir'gihn. Internally, they don't have the Zaen symbiotes that all the other AKB races have. This is because they are an artificial race. Zaen and AKB have been linked for so long that normally an AKB could not survive without a symbiote, which reproduce by implanting the pregnant host's embryo with an embryonic Zaen. A religious sect from before The Reformation used genetic engineering to produce the Yaingah race because they thought the Zaen symbiotes were a sinful, possibly evil, influence.

Though colors of hair, eyes, and skin are semi-randomized by a natural mechanism in their RNA, other features are less random, some to the point of being pretty much a guarantee. For instance, people from Vaysh tend to look like Chinese or Japanese humans, at least in facial structure if not necessarily colorization.

But this isn't just Yaingah. All AKB races can interbreed with others, to various degrees of success. Yaingah are amazingly compatible with Tiir'gihn and Guiimihn, genetically speaking. So the aforementioned facial structure traits are spread throughout the population of Vaysh, even to Vaishan Guiimihn. (Parts of Guiimihn RNA have a strong tendency towards dominance, which is good for pregnant Guiimihn because if they tried to give birth to a full-grown child without the help of a symbiote, they would most likely die. Pretty much all Vaishan Guiimihn have symbiotes, as a result.) Furthermore, I think the Vaishan facial feature type LONG predates Yaingah anyway, and I'm fairly sure the sect that made the Yaingah were mostly comprised of Vaishans.

So now you know: Jiijiinis and Alorno will be Vaishan, and thus will look like Chinese or Japanese humans. In fact, I already have the line drawing done, just have to color it.
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
I woke up early the other day and decided to draw Nahtahdjaiz, the Yahgahn "Child Goddess of Children." I experimented some more with layers, putting the skin coloring and some of the hair coloring in a layer beneath the black outlines. A layer of red at 20% opacity was also added just above the main coloring layer. And there's also another layer of skin color atop everything else, in some of the pictures. In one version, She has freckles. In another, none. In several other versions, She has stripes and spots of varying colors.

This is my favorite of the stripes and spots versions:

Under the cut )

Freckled version:

Under the cut )

Completely spotless version:

Under the cut )

Oh, and Her eyes are awesome. They're like opals. Here is a closeup:


Jan. 17th, 2014 06:01 pm
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
I finished my picture of Kiishiiya, my Eternal Guardian Spirit. The Eternal Guardian Spirits, created by Djao'Kain, take whatever form comforts the ones they protect. I myself am comforted by protectors that look like monsters, so in this picture She takes the form of a naga - IE, She is humanoid from the waist up and a snake from the waist down.

I was going to have spikes coming out of Her back and shoulders, but Her horned crown took so much effort to do that I decided against it. (And yes, I used a picture of Aaliyah as Queen of the Vampires as the model for this picture.)

This time, the shading was a lot easier because all I had to do was get the right colors solidly next to each other, then I used the Smear tool to mix the two colors together. So it took a lot less work than the Shao'Kehn picture did.

Here She is:

Under the cut for size )
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
Well, I finished my Lilith picture on Tuesday (well, wee hours of Wednesday technically), ahead of my projections. And OH. MY. GODDESS. IT. IS. AMAZING!!! I used the famous relief sculpture of Her as a base; had to take a few liberties with the image because of pieces that were missing, damaged, or unclear what they were. But I like it a lot.

I would have finished it even sooner than I did, but I was getting tired of plain white backgrounds, so I made a background. Oh, and I started experimenting with layers! I was getting tired of doing the long tedious edges for the water, and didn't want to do the same thing for the blue sky, so I made a layer behind the first one and put the sky color there. It wasn't as easy as I had thought, because parts of Her head that I'd thought were white were in fact clear, and so I had to be cautious where I put the sky blue. Also, I couldn't see the main layer when painting on the sky layer, so I had to keep switching back and forth, and that was difficult, but even so it was still loads faster and easier than doing it all on one layer was.

Also used a third layer between those two, to make the rays of light from Her head. I would have had some more going between the ones that are there, and the large waves spiraling up, but for some reason that layer was cut off at a point that made that impossible.

Oh, and the original picture is fucking ENORMOUS! I had to open it in KolourPaint (kind of like MSPaint, for Ubuntu) to crop the image after saving as PNG from MyPaint, and at first I thought it hadn't loaded. I tried zooming out, and I had to zoom out to 33% before I could get the whole image on one screen. And that was with these enormous white zones around the main picture. Cropping that the way I needed it was making the poor computer huff and puff figuratively speaking (the KolourPaint program was taking almost a minute to respond). Given the sheer size of the picture, I was able to be patient with it. Finally, though, I got it cropped and got all that ugly white out of the picture.

Hmm... I was going to say "don't worry, PhotoBucket makes images smaller when they are too large, but then it occurred to me I don't trust PhotoBucket to not freak out and delete my account for pictures with nudity; they did once before, which is why my account over there is marionette_of_obscurum instead of my usual fayanora. And I don't know if LiveJournal will resize the image or not. Oh well, I'll find out soon enough.

To give you an idea just how enormous the original is, the PNG is 15.3 Megs. The Shao'Kehn picture I did before, where She is squatting, its PNG is only 1.2 Megs! And the Lilith picture in the " .ora " format file that MyPaint uses is 51.9 Megs, while the ora file of Shao'Kehn squatting is only 3.7 Megs! Of course, the original picture of Shao'Kehn squatting is a bit small compared to my other drawings, but still... its ora file is still about 3 times bigger than the ora file for the Kiin'Djahn picture.

Anyway, so here is the image, enjoy:

Probably safe to say it's still gonna be huge. )


Dec. 1st, 2013 06:41 pm
fayanora: Djao'Kain (Djao'Kain)
So... I wasn't planning on drawing Ahgoi, Goddess of People, because She is not a goddess I work with; She's not very important to me. But I was re-reading the Noiionayya and re-discovered that She is the father of Kusahnjiijahn and Kiin'Djahn. So, since it was a family set to begin with, I decided I might as well add Ahgoi. Did an easy pose, didn't want to go to too much work. But I wanted the face to look similar to the others, so I focused my efforts there.

Anyway, here we are:

Under the cut because they are big. )


fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
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