All things Witchy shall leave you SPELLBOUND!

picmonkey-collageI haven’t written anything remotely witchy on the blog for ages. My bad; I hold my hands up and acknowledge that fully. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to necessarily, it’s just that I haven’t had the time. Plus, perfectionist that I am I’ve wanted to do the subject matter the justice that it deserves and that means lots of photos, lots of writing and lots of additional chores that I just haven’t really had the facility to manage.  However, I am starting the month of October with the very best of intentions to try and make amends, and what better time to begin?

SECOND LIFE truly comes alive at this time of year (which is somewhat ironic when you think about it, being a time traditionally associated with death!) , and right through until Halloween (Samhain),  the grid is simply bursting with buzzing with events and themed sales, parties and celebrations.  It has to be my absolute favourite season and it’s the perfect month to celebrate being a Witch in the virtual world, so if you seek some witchy inspiration, let me start by sharing a few places you REALLY need to visit.

First of all, let me share my absolute favourite Witchy sim..SPELLBOUND!spellbound_004.jpg
OK, I know what you’re thinking : Spellbound is a hair store!?! But the store, and the sim itself, is for me one of the most perfectly witchy places upon the grid. The occult vibe hits as soon as you land outside the main store, where absolutely  everything in sight is beautifully built and carefully placed. Even the font that adorns the sign above the door (on a gothic mansion no less) is just perfect for the theme,  and it really does leave you feeling, excuse the pun, spellbound!

As you enter there’s a cauldron bubbling furiously away,  as incense curls patterns of smoke above the counter. Crystals and potion bottles decorate  the shelves along with grimoires and arcane sketches that hang on the wall, and there’s the ever watchful gaze of an owl and a somewhat friendly looking hell-hound looking after the store in the owner, Kohana Xue‘s absence. Despite the nature of these objects, they all have a colourful, modern bohemian twist, which resonates perfectly  with the product she sells.

She’s changed the landscape a little since I last visited; I *think* that there used to be a stone circle here at some point but sadly that’s no longer present (but there is ample space for one to be erected!)

Why does Spellbound mean so much to me? Because it’s so beautifully and artfully created. You can tell that the store build along with the environment that surrounds it, was truly a labour of love during their creation. Not only that but the contents inside all reflect the theme perfectly; from the way that the store advertisements are lit by candles and crescent moons to the names of the products that she sells, Kohana Xue leaves you in no doubt of her witchy credentials that surely (like mine) extend beyond the virtual home that we share.

Another reason why I adore it so is that despite Spellbound being a store, it puts the majority of the actual Pagan/Witchcraft stores and learning locations you’ll find in-world to shame. I don’t visit many of those places purely because they look shite. There’s no delicate way for me to put this, so I’m not going to; they’re full of builds and artefacts from the early days of the metaverse and it’s a crying shame. Take important places like Witches Island that have served the community for many years. I’m not being disrespectful to the groups that meet and socialise there but the place looks terrible. Ask yourself, where would you rather hang out? A place filled with badly textured builds and furniture that probably looked great ten years ago, or somewhere that really looks the part? It’s especially annoying when you consider how much content creation has moved on in-world; there’s no need to settle for such an uninspiring environment when there’s clearly so much better out there.

While we’re at it, another thing that galls me about such places is that they’re always bloody filled with reproductions of renaissance paintings and copies of artworks made by esteemed real life pagan artists like Mickie Mueller, Lisa Parker and Ann Stokes to name but a few. It makes me incredibly angry to see this, as does any copyright theft in SL, but we’ve all talked about that until we’re blue in the face enough now to know that ignorance is not bliss, and there’s no excuse for it. If you fill your sim with reproductions and copies then I’m not going to frequent it, simple as. Trust me on this, use search and see what kinds of places you find, not one of them look a patch on Spellbound and that upsets me greatly, especially because Kohana has proved beyond a doubt that you can have a Pagan themed environment in-world without cruddy textures, naff styling and copyright abuse.  If she can create like this then surely other people can too?

Well, actually there are some amazing artists that demonstrate the same skills as Kohana. If you’re wanting to establish your own altar in-world then SPELLBOUND sells a few items that can set you on your way. It’s not just hair you know; there’s a gacha in store that is teeming with splendid items that are perfect for decorating your sacred space and there are a couple more quality Witch, Wiccan and Pagan retailers that are more than worth a glance too.  I strongly recommend you check out the work of Kalia Firelyte (the creative genius behind JIAN) and Corwin Lacourte who is the brains behind HEXTRAORDINARY. Not only will you find magical pets and mysterious creatures at his store, but also fantastic Rune and Tarot sets, incense holders, crystal points, scrying bowls and fantastic furniture and exterior builds too! (I’ll be talking about a creation of Corwin’s I’ve recently discovered in a few blog posts time, so stay tuned!) Last but not least we have the legendary Robin Sojourner in-world too, who sells items at her ‘Broom Closet’ store, which is located next to the  Wiccan Learning Centre that she has hosted in Second Life for many years now.  spellbound_003.jpgIf you’re looking for an actual build suitable for your own witchy space you’ll find there are two to consider that are both ideal and available to purchase at Spellbound as well. First of all is the rather grand, formal build that is the ‘Temple Of Illumination’. This impressive structure is styled as a medieval illumination temple and is perfect for formal group meetings and circle workings, but be sure to check out the ‘Atrium Skybox’ that is available in-store too. This is a very crisp, clean and light build that would be perfect for informal pagan group meetings up in the clouds,although it would be just as fantastic to live in.

I’m going to wrap up these witchy ramblings by sharing something with you: my dream in Second Life has long been to establish a working group in-world for witches to hang out in and chat as well as celebrate Esbats and Sabbats.  Sadly I just don’t have the cash to do that just yet, and I’ve never felt that the buildings and accessories are available to be able to do it in style. As Kohana’s work, and that of her peers proves,  Second Life has now reached a stage in build quality where my ambition might prove slightly more achievable.   Alas, I need the land to do it (and some Lindens too)  but one day it will happen, and if you’re interested in joining me on this adventure in the future please let me know, it would be lovely to have you along for the broomstick ride!   Until then, I’ll keep visiting Spellbound to get my witchy hair and home fix.  Click HERE and you can do just the same! 

Witchy Wednesdays: A Kitty Rant…

For today’s Witchy Wednesday I was going to feature a couple of nice items that I’d spotted at quite a well-known Wiccan store, but instead I’m going to talk about IP infringement and copyright theft, because it  is pretty rampant amongst the in-world Pagan community, and no one seems to be addressing it.

Seek out a Pagan/Witchy store in Second Life  and you will probably find some textures there being used on posters, pictures and even rugs that shouldn’t be. Some of the most recognisable names in esoteric art are being ripped off, probably unbeknownst to them, and I’m sick of it.

Last night I received a notecard from a store to announce some new items for sale, and off I trotted to take a look. Within seconds I’d found texture rips of images by artists like Anne Stokes and Lisa Parker. There were other images too by artists I am not familiar with, but you can bet your bottom dollar that none of these people  had given permission for their work to be used in this way. They may not even be aware that it can be.

As long as I’ve been in Second Life I’ve seen textures used upon items for sale that aren’t legitimately sourced. It’s nothing new sadly, and is a difficult issue to fight, as I am sure we all know by now.  But visit areas of interest particular to those of us of a Pagan/Wiccan persuasion and the volume seems to increase tenfold. It seems that the stores  aimed at our demographic just can’t exist without ripping off someone else’s work.

It seems strange to me that the in-world Pagan community hasn’t been more strident in insisting that people take a stand against this, and yet many of the well-known markets and meeting places are drowning in stolen imagery.  It’s incredibly depressing.  There are content creators in-world who are Pagan and create original content for sale, for example Robin Sojourner, so if she can do it, why can’t everybody else?

And therein lies the rub; despite the spiritual beliefs that we as a community hold so dear, there is always someone trying to make a fast buck. Or in this case a fast Linden. And for that we should be ashamed.

Please, don’t buy from such places. As tempting as it may be, it’s not right that someone can profit from someone elses artistic creations.  Even if it is just a few Lindens, it doesn’t matter.  Making money from someone else’s hard work is unethical, plain and simple.  I’m also mindful of the Wiccan Rede applying to this situation too.

I don’t want to name and shame, that’s not really my style, but I do think we should take action.  Therefore I’m asking that as a reader of this blog, if you spot textures and artwork  being abused in this way challenge it. Often people don’t think that they’re doing any harm by reproducing works without permission, and feel embarrassed when you point it out to them. But there are some people that just don’t care, and it’s only by standing together and making a point about these actions that we can make a difference.  It’s my firm belief that our sacred in-world communities will not suffer through this, but become stronger.

Think of all the original mesh creations and textures that should be used instead, and how they can enrich the virtual world that we call home.  A tantalising prospect indeed…let’s make it happen.

Home & Garden Expo 2014: Rustic simplicity with a magical touch from R (S) W

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The 7th annual Home & Garden Expo begins tomorrow, and as ever it is going to be a HUGE event, raising funds for Relay For Life of Second Life.   If you’re seeking a brand new virtual home, or looking for individual pieces to furnish your existing one, you’ll find everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink at the event.  You have until September 28th to enjoy it, and you’ll need to take your time. There are 9 sims, featuring the work of over 85 creators!

I had a nosey and my first impressions are that there are  a lot of shabby chic and rustic pieces this year (as well as more modern furniture and homes too)so if you like your home to rock a boho vibe you’d be wise to pay the event a visit. There are also a lot of traditionally styled homes too, more than I’ve noted in recent years, with greater more emphasis on period living and role-play too.  It’s great to see how this event has truly evolved over the years , and there are plenty of  wonderful items to appeal to every kind of avatar.

Here’s an example, this beautiful ‘Farm Chair- Eyeback’ has been lovingly crafted by Robin Sojourner, for her R (S) W brand. I absolutely adore the simplicity of this piece of furniture; it looks extremely effective with a fabulous worn texture, and would work just as well as a display item as it would a functional chair. Place it in a corner and pile high with books and candles, or you could choose to decorate it with this stunning fantasy piece from Robin, a ‘Dragonfly Dragon’.  Both items have a land impact of 1.  I’ll be featuring more items on these pages during the event but be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are covering this occasion, as well as the official Flickr group too!

The Drax Files: World Makers [ Episode 10: Robin Sojourner]

The latest episode of  ‘The Drax Files: World Makers’ has dropped, and it’s one that really resonates with me.

You see, the lady featured is Robin Sojourner, who I know better as Robin Wood, the creator of some of the most beautiful Pagan artworks I have ever seen.  Her work adorns my most beloved deck of Tarot cards (The Robin Wood Tarot) and her artworks adorn many a treasured tome on my Witchy bookshelves in my real life home.  She’s also the proponent of the theory of cat gravity, something to which I fully prescribe. I guess that you could say I am a bit of a fan..

When I joined Second Life I wasn’t aware that Robin used it as a vehicle for her creativity, so I was of course delighted to discover that she has an in-world presence. Not only that, but as I’ve blogged before, Robin has a fabulous Wiccan Learning Centre in world that you can visit to discover more about this particular Pagan path.

However this episode isn’t about Robin’s Pagan persuasions, but about the way that she uses Second Life.  Robin waxes lyrical about the virtues of our metaverse, and how it can be an essential tool for creative development, arguing that there’s not much difference between real life work and engagement in the virtual, and that both are equally valid.

I adored this episode. It was so lovely to see someone I really admire featured, and I also think that Robin may actually be Mrs. Santa Claus! (If the gentleman in the video is indeed Robin’s partner as I am speculating, than check out his amazing beard! What a guy!)

Here’s to another fantastic instalment of this essential machinima series; great work as always Drax!