9
Aug

Of Obi-Wannabes, Fluffy Bunnies, and Warlocks

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

The warlock is back.

That warlock would be me. Since I’ve ended my association with the Tip of the Weed (er, I mean Vine) Coven run by the Obi-Wannabe (with apologies to George Lucas, the creator of the real Obi-Wan Kenobi), Ruth N., aka Aviana Snowwolfe, I suppose that technically I could be considered a warlock. The dictionary definition of a warlock is listed below this paragraph.

war·lock (wôrl¼k) n. A male witch, sorcerer, wizard, or demon. [Middle English warloghe, from Old English wÆrloga, oath-breaker: wÆr, pledge; see wro- below + -loga, liar (from logan, to lie; see leugh- below).]

————————————————————

leugh-. Important derivatives are: warlock, belie, lie2.

leugh-. To tell a lie.I. 1.a. WARLOCK, from Old English logan, to lie; b. BELIE, from Old English belogan, to deceive (be-, about; see ambhi). Both a and b from Germanic *leugan. 2. LIE2, from Old English lyge, a lie, falsehood, from Germanic *lugiz. [Pokorny leugh- 686.]

————————————————————

wro-. Important derivatives are: warlock, verity, very, verdict, verify, severe, persevere.

wro-. True. 1. WARLOCK, from Old English wÆr, faith, pledge, from Germanic *wra-. 2. VERACIOUS, VERISM, VERITY, VERY; AVER, VERDICT, VERIDICAL, VERIFY, VERISIMILAR, VOIR DIRE, from Latin vrus, true. 3. SEVERE; ASSEVERATE, PERSEVERE, from Latin sevrus, grave, serious; regarded by some as a compound of se-, sed, without (see s(w)e-), and vrus, true, but the semantic difficulties make this explanation improbable. 4. Normal grade *wero-, from *wer-o-. GALORE, from Old Irish roar, enough, from *ro-wero-, sufficiency (*ro-, intensive prefix, from *pro-; see per1). [Pokorny 11. øer- 1165.]

So how did I come to such an ignoble end? All things end, even student-teacher relationships. Especially once the student has become the master and the teacher the student. True, any teacher may learn from their students and it would be surprising if this wasn’t the case, but overall the teacher should know more than the student. That was not the case with Aviana ‘Snow-puppy’.

I had been just shy of my year and a day studying with a Gardnerian coven in south Florida when work necessitated a move to Georgia (See my post, “From ‘F’ to ‘G’.) In addition I had also spent the last year studying under Cara, founder of the EarthGuard tradition and witch queen of more than 30 hived Gardnerian covens. I also studied under a ceremonial magician and did my own studying. Following is my reading list to date:

  1. Wicca Beliefs and Practices, Gary Cantrell
  2. Wicca the Complete Craft, DJ Conway
  3. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland
  4. Wicca for One, Raymond Buckland
  5. Solitary Wicca for Life, Murphy Hiscock
  6. A Witch Alone, Marian Green (very good for solitaires—first book the Gardnerians had me read)
  7. Instant Magick, Christopher Penzak
  8. Practical Magic for Beginners, Brandy Williams (very good, excellent exercises—this is where I learned my peculiar way of raising energy)
  9. Druid Power, Amber Wolfe
  10. The Woman’s Book of Healing Herbs, Sara Harrar & Sara O’Donnell
  11. A Witch’s Bible, Janet & Stewart Farrar (My favorite reference)
  12. Handfasting and Wedding Rituals, Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwartzstein
  13. Chakra Yoga, Alan Finger (We need to concentrate more on the basics. Yoga is an excellent way to improve meditation skills)
  14. Eco Shamanism, James Endready
  15. The Lore of the Bard, Arthur Rowan
  16. Magick, Shamanism, and Taoism, Richard Herne
  17. The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation Solitary Witch, Silver Ravenwolf
  18. The Meaning of Witchcraft, Gerald Gardner
  19. Witchcraft Today, Gerald Gardner
  20. Mystical Secrets for Wealth, Health, and Happiness, Joan Marie
  21. The Way of the Green Witch, Arin Murphy-Hiscock
  22. Power Spellcraft for Life, Arin Murphy-Hiscock
  23. Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communication, Raymond Buckland
  24. The Circle Within, Dianne Sylvan
  25. Empowering Your Life with Wicca, Sirona Knight
  26. Energy-focused Meditation, Genevieve Lewis Paulson (It’s okay but could be better)
  27. Enchanted Titania’s Book of White Magic (Uh, what can I say since I don’t believe in white/gray/black magick; there is only magick. But it’s a nice book anyway
  28. Total Meditation, Susannah Marriott (two thumbs up)
  29. The Good Spell Book, Gillian Kemp (an interesting study of gypsy magick)
  30. Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, Aaron Leitche
  31. Magick of the Gods and Goddesses, DJ Conway
  32. Three Books of Occult Pholosophy, Henry Cornelius Agrippa (yeah!)
  33. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham
  34. Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler (excellent anthropomorphical study of Pagans in America)
  35. How To Uncover Your Past Lives, Ted Andrews (Did you know that I’ve lived about 600 lifetimes but only 54 of them on Earth—explains a lot doesn’t it)
  36. How to Meet and Work with Spirit Guides, Ted Andrews
  37. Tarot Decoder, Kathleen McCormmack (It’s okay but I like the book that came with the Gilded Tarot better)
  38. The Apocrypha, Gilly Sergiev
  39. The Secrets of High Magic, Francis Melville (An excellent reference on summoning—a good companion to #30, and #32 listed)
  40. Magical Use of Thought Forms, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki & JH Brennan (not as good as I thought it’d be but still worthwhile)
  41. To Stir a Magick Cauldron, Silver Ravenwolf (a good teen witch book)
  42. Palm Decoder, Tre McCamley
  43. The Gilded Tarot, Tarot reference which came with the set

Whereas Ruth’s reading list as far as I know has been confined to a few of Silver Ravenwolf’s books and a couple of “feminazi” texts, the historically speculative but unscholarly “When God was a Woman”, and “The Chalice and the Blade.” Neither of these books is taken seriously by educated Wiccans. But the common misconception among many charlatans is if you’ve read a Ravenwolf book or two, all you need to do is claim to be Wiccan high-mukety-muck of something or another and faster than you can say, “Sabrina the teenage witch,” poof, there you are an instant Wiccan High Priestess. Ruth never fails to sign all of her emails with the title Wiccan HPS. I wonder whether she realizes that by the nature of our beliefs, everyone is clergy and therefore able to conduct rituals and claim the title of HPS or HP (high priestess/high priest.)

One of the first things I did when arriving in Georgia was to look for a witches’ meet up group. I met Ruth at one such meeting. She claimed to be a Wiccan Wisteria (anybody ever hear of the Wisteria tradition) High Priestess of a local coven (The Tip of the Vine.) After our initial conversation, I asked her to teach us (me and my wife.) While my training at the time was equivalent to that of a master adept, my wife was just beginning her formal training in Wicca and I felt it might be good for her to learn from someone else besides me.

I suppose the first red flag that should have been raised was at the very first study group meeting, when she took more than an hour detailing the woes in her life including the fact that she was bipolar, had curvature of the spine, flat feet, no job, and no health insurance, her car’s transmission was going out—reverse didn’t work—so she had to find parking spaces where she could pull straight through, she had to park on the grass at the doctor’s office for that reason, her lawyer was always calling her (at the time she was putting in for disability but I’m not sure that she’s ever worked—anywhere.)

Well, I’m ‘pie-polar’ myself. Sometimes I like cherry pie and sometimes I like pumpkin pie. I don’t believe in that Oprah/The View disease and think that people who claim to be bipolar are really just looking for an excuse for their inappropriate behaviors, and the inappropriate behaviors would soon start just after me, my wife, Kris, and other student were initiated into the coven.

The first thing I noticed about the group was their lackadaisical approach to observing the sabbats and esbats. However at the time, I thought perhaps the Goddess had brought me to this group to help get them back on track. Ruth would often cite her ‘busy’ schedule as the reason that a sabbat or esbat ritual would need to be skipped. One such occurrence happened on Samhain—the holiest day of the year for witches. The reason that the coven skipped Samhain was because they needed to take their kids trick-or-treating. Okay, I said let’s have ritual either earlier or later on Samhain, or the day before, or day after (preferably the day after—November 1.) No, couldn’t do it—busy, busy, busy schedules. Well, how freaking busy can you be when you don’t work?

Later, we found out that Ruth’s idea of being busy was spending up to eight plus hours a day in Harry Potter chat rooms or playing the MMORPG Runescape. However, still she continued to use the excuse of her busy schedule to dilute the quality of the student lessons, for using canned rituals instead of writing her own, or for shirking her duties as a high priestess and teacher.

Most of her rituals seemed like something downloaded off the internet. If that was what she was doing it wouldn’t surprise me since I know from talking to her that is where she got the lessons she taught as her own material. Upon learning this I asked her if she knew what plagiarism was and she did what she always did when cornered about something. She pulled rank: “I’m the high priestess and what I say goes…”

(To be continued)

The first ritual had written for the coven nearly caused my expulsion then. I had had the temerity to include the following eko eko stanza in the Witches’ Rune.

Eko Eko Azarak
Eko Eko Zomilak
Eko Eko Cerrunnos
Eko Eko Aradia

The first ritual had written for the coven nearly caused my expulsion then. I had had the temerity to include the following eko eko stanza in the Witches’ Rune.

Ruth accused me of being league with the devil—even though Wiccans don’t believe in the devil.Still I egged her on by telling her it wasn’t I who was in league with the devil but rather he was in league with me.Spoken like a true warlock. I then attempted to explain to her the meaning of the eko eko calls.

Azarak – A dark angel, theoretically standing for Fire.
Zomelak – A dark angel, theoretically standing for Water.
Cerrunos/Cernunnos – In some of the older transcriptions of Gardner‘s BOS, spelling was
around Karrellyos and as far as I can tell, the Alexandrians shaped it to Cerrunos and Ecclectic Wicca brought it to equate to Cernunnos. All of which are probably bad spellings of Cernunnos, the Celtic Horned God which appears only on the altar of Nautes,now in the Cluny Museum in Paris, but many other representations (such as on the Gundestrup
Cauldron) are clearly of the same God. (See Witches Goddess, p. 167)

Hence, the translation would be thus:
“Hail and Come Forth, Hail and Come Forth, Azarak”
(Fire)

“Hail and Come Forth, Hail and come Forth, Zomelak”
(water)

“Hail and Come Forth, Hail and come Forth, Aradia”
(Air/Moon)

“Hail and Come Forth, Hail and come Forth, Cernunnos”
(Earth)


(to be continued)


But she wouldn’t have any of that scary high magick stuff in her rituals. Actually it wasn’t her ritual as my wife and I were to be the HPS and HP for that ritual. So now were they not only lazy but they were fluffy as well.

It wasn’t just their objections to the eko eko chant which made them fluffy bunnies; it was their attitude about everything. They are the types of Wiccans who take the rede literally. When it came to using magick they were completely paralyzed by “an it harm none” and possible karmic backlashes. So instead of acting when they should have whether the action required was a healing or some sort of defensive magick, they did nothing. These people are coffee-house witches. They’d rather sit around and talk about Wicca than live it. But as long as you say a “Blessed be” once in a while or add “In her service” to your emails, you’re living up to your full Wiccan potential.

I believe in the rede as much as the next witch but when I see a wrong, I will act. Given the situation, first I exhausted all mundane avenues to a resolution. I would counsel anyone to act thusly. Having run out of the normal options, I resorted to magick. Because of my abilities to focus, conjure sentient thought forms, and to perform ceremonial as well as low magick, my magick works. This fact makes me a formidable opponent as well as very scary to the Tip-o-the-weed coven.
In retrospect, it is possible I did go too far with my magickal solution. Overkill might be a better word but I accepted the possible karmic consequences of my actions. At least I acted instead of standing to the side like a bunch of frightened school girls.

The wisteria weeds coven’s idea of performing magick is to light candles or to stuff herb cachets and sleep with them under their pillows. Unless of course it is act on one of the bird lady’s (oh wait excuse me, Lady Aviana Snowwolfe, HPS for 10 years) personal grudges. Then, her sanctimonious breast bleating about the rede would go strangely silent.

There were a couple of times though where I suspected that she’d appropriated my spells for her own work because she came to me and said that I shouldn’t worry about her copying my spells. Rather than being angry I was flattered. At least they used real magick a couple of times I though to myself.
We should have left the coven earlier than we did, but despite my misgivings about the coven’s dedication to The Craft and to Wiccan worship, I talked my wife into staying even when she wanted to leave. I should have listened to her and left when she wanted to leave the group but good groups are hard to find and I was still hungry for what I thought was like-minded company.

Alas though, the weekly dramas got worse to the point where I thought I was in a theatre troupe and not a coven. It was not uncommon for Ruth to spend at least an hour detailing the melodrama of her week to disinterested ears. The drama always had to do something with someone wronging her or not allowing her to collect social services money, etc, etc, ad nauseum. It got so bad that all the other students left except Kris and I.

Finally, after she and I had disagreed about her changing the curriculum yet another time—she’d changed it twice before—(and every time she changed it meant you started over again at a novice level) she called me one day in the car (she didn’t have the guts to talk to me face to face—and she said I needed work on my people skills—to tell me she couldn’t confer a degree upon me because I just wasn’t ready yet even though I’d never received less than a ‘B’ on any assignment. In addition, she was expelling me from the coven; Kris of course was welcome to stay. She didn’t know that Kris had wanted to leave for longer than I had. This was yet another one of her little dramas she had to play out. I decided I wasn’t going to play. When Ruth delivered the ‘bad’ news, I merely said, “fine”, and closed out the conversation as soon as could politely end it.

Because of my prowess, my wife, Kris who is clairvoyant, told me that Ruth was terrified of the retribution I would wreak as Ruth had crossed a powerful witch in the past and she and all her friends lived to regret it. I would never use magick against a former coven sister no matter how whacked she acts. Besides, people like her will self-destruct of their own accord with out any help magickal or mundane.
I believe that Ruth did try to bind me. It was a pitiful attempt (hey there bird lady what about the rede now?) and I broke the binding with such force that I’m sure it must have snapped her head back and caused her much pain. Yes, that may have a violation of the rede, but she attacked first. I’m a laid back person, but if provoked I will defend myself and make sure that the attacker never has the means to try and harm me again. As Will Smith would say, “Don’t start n’thing and there won’t be n’thing.”

As far as I know, Ruth only has had two ‘graduates’ from her ‘school’ those both being coven members and I have personal knowledge of at least six people who have left her tutelage. The last I heard she a new student so now it’s just the three of them talking about Wiccan feminism and occasionally deigning to perform a ritual. If they’re happy then good for them I wish them no malice. I once had a teacher who believed that the Universe doesn’t allow any more shit to hit the cosmic fan than you can handle and if being fluffy bunnies but nibbling at the cosmic clover then so be it. They must be on the path that is right for them.

Having said that and to add some closing remarks, I would caution any seekers who go to Aviana Snowwolfe for teaching to search elsewhere. She is too unstable to teach and her behavior too erratic for her to lead a coven. In addition, if being better than your teacher, and if wanting to worship the Goddess and God with more than a mere passing nod at the God, and if attempting to reach the next spiritual plane, and if striving to experience the full gamut, glory, wonder, and power of the occult, and if practicing high magick makes me a warlock then so mote it be.

Let the witch wars begin.

17
Aug

Grounding and Centering, and Shielding

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

Grounding and Centering

Grounding and centering are two parts of one fluid psychic movement. Like when the individual forms in tai chi chuan combine in a seamless flowing dance of body and mind, so should grounding and centering be two halves of a single action. Texts on everything from martial arts, yoga, meditation, and of course witchcraft have made so much of a simply natural act, that novices often feel that to be able to ground and center themselves properly must require Jedi-like abilities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

True, it takes some time and practice (and more practice, and more practice, and more practice.) However, our ancestors whom I like to believe were not as well educated as current-day witches, and who often had to hide their witchcraft in plain sight by incorporating such activities into their everyday routines were able to center and ground themselves, then you can also.

Grounding, the first part of a two-act play is the act of connecting oneself to the Earth. As one of the authors in the assigned reading asserted, it can be as easy as planting your butt on a rock. Other ways that I personally ground myself include going for a run, practicing tai chi chuan, and sitting outside. Another method I use, especially as a preparation for meditation, is to sit like a tree on windless day (I do like the tree visualization used in the assigned reading.)

I’ll sit either in a chair or on a bed, eyes closed, emptying myself of everything that I can. I let errant thoughts, the day’s cares, or the sudden realization that my pants are on fire from sitting too close to the incense, sink down the trunk of my body into the roots of my feet which continue downward through the floorboards into the loamy soil, and finally through bedrock which churns and parts to reveal the molten core. At the same time, I find myself sitting in a cone of bluish white light radiating from a singularity and indefinite height above me. Then, I may whisper these words:

I am not this body,
I have no history, no biography, only now,
I am not these thoughts,
I am transparent as the wind.

The purpose of the above little mantra is to remove my selfness so that I am not an unconnected and alone individual but rather I am the universe and all that it contains on this plane and all others and as such, I am connected to everything, everywhere, everywhen.

When I feel sufficiently grounded, I bend my elbows, placing my arms across my chest, hands vertical, and several millimeters apart, palms facing each other in front of my heart or Anahata chakra. After a few moments, I’ll feel heat and or tingling in my hands. I let the energy build a bit more into a gold orb and then lift it above my head and let in fall into my crown chakra and back down my body. I am now ready to meditate or perform magickal workings.

I like working with my heart chakra. However, I realize the method outlined in the reading for centering involves the Ajna or Third Eye chakra. I’ll have to try that technique. What is important to take away from these two techniques is that there is no textbook right or wrong way to ground and center. What matters is that the technique used renders results for the practitioner. Results for the individual are the final arbiter of whether or not someone is grounding and centering correctly.

Shielding

I couldn’t help myself.

When reading that I had to write about shielding, the first image that popped into my head was that of Harry Potter in Snape’s, Defense against the Dark Arts class. Just like Harry, muggles (I love J.K.R.’s term for non-magickal people) and magickal folk alike need to protect themselves from the effluvium of overloud psychic ‘broadcasters’, outright attacks by malicious magick practitioners, and from assorted nasty beings who enter from other reality planes.

The entire subject of shielding is too broad too broad, to discuss exhaustively in the space allotted for this assignment. Because there are many aspects to shielding/protective magick such as amulet or talisman creation, creating a protected area (not to be confused with circle casting even though by definition, a circle is a protected area), banishing, and erection of a personal protection shield (PPS.) I’ll limit my discussion in this assignment to the latter topic.

As mentioned earlier, a PPS is necessary to dampen the mental efflux of co-workers, large crowds, or just plain irritating people. In addition, you may need to defend yourself from an attacker.
One of my first attempts at shielding included the following chant.

Reflection Spell
I cast this reflective circle times three.
’Tis a simple rhyme, but the words are true.

Because flung queries ricochet off me,
And boomerangs back three times onto you.

Your prying spying reveals no truths about me.
So mote it be.

Cute isn’t it? As an outgrowth of that small spell, I now use a visualization of a smooth, mirrored sphere that surrounds me and reflects energy back to its source. Given time, I like to ground and center, and then extract energy from my Anahata chakra into an energy ball. While holding this ball of bluish white light, I lift it up over my head and drop it back onto me. The ball of energy expands, enveloping me while at the same time, its exterior hardens, darkens, and then frosts over in a silvery sheen like a polished ball bearing.

Admittedly, this is a difficult visualization for me to maintain. I think the difficulty could be in not being properly grounded or centered, and thus I’m using my own energy stores instead of drawing on the universe’s energy. On the other hand, it could be the physics involved in sustaining the area of effect.

The volume of a sphere is determined by the formula (4∏r3)/3 where r = the radius of the affected area. Therefore, if the caster wished to maintain a shielded area with a radius of say a meter, the formula works out to (4 x 3.1415926535897932 x 1m^3) / 3 and equals approximately 4.188 meters of affected area. That’s a relatively large area to control an effect over for an extended period. Bear in mind that the barrier isn’t static; it needs constant refreshing and that energy has to come from somewhere, or someone.

At times due to the physics of magick or because you are under attack by a superior adversary, you may want to employ some of these tactics.

  1. A mental onslaught has breached your defensive barrier and the enemy is inside. What you can try now is to picture your mind as a small room. Remove the roof and look down into the interior. Next, in your mind’s eye, build that addition you were always planning. Then, add another and another room. Add rooms with lots of locked doors and obstacles concentrically around the original room. This action should either bore or discourage your attacker while they try finding their way through the labyrinth you’ve created so that they give up trying penetrate your mind any further.

Alternatively, as a last resort try this,

  1. Let them in. Let them have everything they want and more. It’s the ‘more’ part that will stop them. As long as they’re connected to you, and inside your mind, send them the most horrifying pictures, you can conjure. The image of a flaming dagger stabbing through the eye into the brain is a favorite of mine. As I’ve said earlier, you should only use this technique as a last resort because anyone or anything powerful enough to penetrate your shield, probably has protected themselves against possible counter-attacks. In addition, there is the Wiccan Rede to consider, and whether despite the fact that you are being attacked, whether you want to risk harming another being.

Admittedly, the above techniques are for use only in the direst combat situations. For more casual shielding, raising a PPS should suffice.

The final type of shield I wish to discuss—did I mention shielding was a broad topic—is what I call projective shielding. Projective shielding is where using visualization and energy manipulation you literally throw a shield around another item or person. Such a shield can be hard to maintain while also trying to keep your PPS intact. Personally, I’ve only had success with this type of shielding on the astral plane.

In this assignment grounding, centering, and shielding were discussed. Grounding and centering—no matter the visualization used—reconnects one to the Earth/Universe so that the witch draws energy from those sources instead of themselves. Shielding is one of the first magickal practices learned and protects the caster from psychic background noise, or, in more serious circumstances, an attack from a malicious practitioner of magick.





5
Jul

So-called Progress

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

From the book “Fatu-Hiva”
By Thor Heyerdahl

Man has conceived a bedeviled word. We first let it out of our own mouths and next permitted it to grab us by the nose and lead us astray. The word is “progress”. When first conceived, this term was meant to describe a forward motion, a change from something bad or good to something better. Never to something worse. Then we took it one step further.

With superb self-confidence, we assumed that we ourselves would never change anything for the worse, so we were quick to adopt the same word to describe man’s move away from nature. Any invention, just any artificial product or device, was progress. Progress became something determined by the clock and not by quality. Still tied to its original meaning, progress can never run
backward. Irrespective of whether we judge it with a compass or with a watch.
No architecture left by the early Egyptians can therefore ever be said to represent progress from what Europeans built in medieval times, even if everyone agreed that the Egyptian buildings were superior. An ancient Greek sculpture of Venus of Milo can never represent progress from a modern composition of a corkscrew and a cogwheel hanging from the spokes of an umbrella. The term progress is always in favor of the living generation, will therefore never go out of fashion, and the dead can never turn it to run counterclockwise, in their favor.

We like to think of progress as modern man’s struggle to secure better food for more people, warmer clothing and finer dwellings for the poor, more medicine and hospitals for the sick, increased security against war, less corruption and crime, a happier life for young and old. But, as it has turned out, progress involves much more.

It is progress when weapons are improved to kill more people at a longer range. It is progress when a little man becomes a giant because he can push a button and blow up the world. It is progress when the man in the street can stop thinking and creating because all his problems are solved by others who show him what happens if he turns on a switch. It is progress when people become so specialized that they know almost everything about almost nothing.

It is also progress when reality gets so damned dull that we all survive by sitting staring at entertainment radiating from a box, or when one pill is invented to cure the harm done by another, or when hospitals grow up like mushrooms because our heads are overworked and bodies underdeveloped, because our hearts are empty and our intestines filled with anything cleverly advertised. It is progress when a farmer leaves his hoe and a fisherman his net to step onto an assembly line the day the cornfield is leased to industry, which needs the salmon river as its sewer.

It is progress when cities grow bigger and fields and forests grow smaller, until ever more men spend ever more time in subways and bumper-to-bumper car queues, until neon lights are needed in daytime because buildings grope for the sky and dwarf men and women in canyons where they roll along with klaxons screaming and blow exhaust all over their babies. When children get a sidewalk in exchange for a meadow, when the fragrance of flowers and the view of hills and forest are replaced by air conditioning and a view across the street. It is progress when a centuries-old oak is cut down to give space for a road sign.

21
Jun

Happy Litha/Summer Solstice

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

Happy Litha/Summer Solstice. The Oak King is dead; long live the Holly King.

I plan to publish a Summer Solstice rite (yeah, I know it’s a bit late for this year) but haven’t been able to decide yet on a coven or a solitary ritual. I’ll probably write a solitary ritual based on the the coven ritual I’ve been using. More on this later.

21
Jun

Suckage

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

I hate being right all the time.

It’s a curse.

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), my employer, and also known as a Collection of Small Companies (why compete when you can buy your competition), has given me my official two week notice. You may remember in my post titled, “From ‘F’ to ‘G’”, I mentioned that I had accepted a new job with CSC and they were moving me from Florida to Georgia. That occurred in October.

In February, we moved into a house in Byron, Georgia about six miles from the Raytheon corporate campus where I was working on a database project for the Air Force.
Just so you understand the relationships between the various companies, I’ll outline them now. The Air Force was Raytheon’s customer and CSC had a contract with Raytheon to provide software development services in support of the F15 program. While I took direction from Raytheon program managers, I was an employee of CSC.

Everything went well from the initial requirements gathering to writing the requirements document, from writing the design document the first technical interchange meeting (TIM), and from that first TIM to the first early releases of the prototype application. Raytheon was happy. CSC was happy. I was happy that for a change a project was actually on schedule and within budget. Everyone was happy except the Air Force.

It was during the following month of working on coding the application that I notice the Air Force personnel seemed a bit stand offish, uninterested in answering phone calls, or emails, and vague in a vague sort of way. Something about the way in which they acted and spoke set my mind at unease. I’d seen this sort of behavior in clients before and remarked to a colleague that if I didn’t know better, I’d guess that the Air Force was planning to can the project. My colleague dismissed my uneasiness as caffeine-induced paranoia.

As I said earlier, “I hate being right all the time.”

I wasn’t two minutes into our second TIM, when the Air Force representative announced the plans to kill the project. No amount of cajoling by Raytheon or CSC could change the Air Force’s collective mind either. CSC even offered free work to get the project back on track if the Air Force thought that we had strayed from the path (we hadn’t though.) All to no avail, not even for free work. What would that have cost them?

Then, Raytheon and the Air Force representatives had a closed-door meeting to which I wasn’t invited. Later that day, at two different times, a Raytheon manager came to me to saying that there were circumstances outside the project that were the causes for its termination. I hate being right all the time.

Therefore, pending CSC finding me a new assignment, I’m looking at gainful unemployment commencing June 30, 2006. What really stinks about my situation is that CSC has openings right here in Warner Robins but I’m ineligible because I don’t have a security clearance.

Now, here’s the rub, concerning the clearance. CSC was supposed to be working on getting me a clearance since November 2005 however; I never got the sponsorship from CSC to enter my information for the national agency check (NAC) at the e-qip website until the day the Air Force yanked the funding for the project. It’s this staggering ineptitude so prevalent among managers at corporate that I wonder why any of them are still employed. If I applied the same diligence to my coding, projects would take years to complete while I spent my days ordering lunch and trying to get the best tee times.

This is not an isolated incident. It took them four months to get me a laptop. It took over eight months to fill an order for software that was required for the project and when it arrived, I was still short one title. I was hoping that they would be as lackadaisical about processing my layoff notice; but no, my salary is money out of their managerial bonus pockets. I was on the bench exactly 10 calendar days before I received my notice.

Another reason why I believe that CSC is less than sincere in their efforts to find a new gig for me is that they want to eliminate 5,000 jobs within the next few months so that they’ll be a more palatable choice for a buyout. So of course, let’s eliminate the people who actually do the work as opposed to thinning the myriad layers of deadwood management back at the corporate headquarters.

At the time of this writing, CSC has over 2,000 people on the bench. Being on the bench means that you’re salaried, and drawing pay but don’t have an assignment. Therefore, with the idea of meeting their goal to lay off 5,000 people, I believe CSC will let these 2,000 people go all the while pretending to look for new assignments. As a case in point, since last week, I’ve applied to 24 internal postings and have received word back on only one. How serious do think CSC is about finding work for benched employees if I only get one callback out of 24 applications?

The one hiring manager who did answer me said that if I paid my own travel (mind you, I’m still a salaried employee) then they could consider me. Wait, I am an employee not a contractor. However, if I pay my own travel expenses, how am I different from a contractor? The important thing to remember that in corporate-speak, “employee” means “cheaper contractor”.

I believe a friend of mine aptly summed up my situation when she commented quite succinctly, “Suckage.”

I just sighed inwardly while muttering under my breath, “I hate being right all the time.”

21
Jun

Handfasting Pictures – May 2006

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

Finally, here are the pictures from our 25th anniversary handfasting.

16
Jun

Handfasting Pictures

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized

16
Jun

   Posted by: Scrivener   in Uncategorized


Handfasting cake again.

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