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.

Witchy Wednesdays Part II – Inside the Artemis Shrine

The Sacred Cauldron sim is one of the busiest Pagancentric sims in the metaverse, with an enthusiastic team of spiritually-inclined avatars who work together to provide a spiritual retreat within the confines of Second Life.

Actually, they do this exceptionally well, and one of the nicest services that they perform are the daily morning meditations. At 6am SLT (that’s 2pm UK) every morning, in the Artemis Shrine, they perform a daily blessing via voice. Avatars assemble and take a seat as one of the attending priestesses reads ‘The Charge Of The Goddess.’ (Obviously you need to have the voice function enabled to hear her)

After the reading of the charge, each avatar types into chat a message expressing gratitude for something in their lives that they are especially thankful for upon that day, or alternatively asking for strength from the Goddess. It’s a relaxed atmosphere so you can pretty much go with the flow. Finally attendees are led on a guided meditation to raise energy for the day ahead. It’s a lovely way to pass thirty minutes and there is a genuine feeling of warmth amongst the group that assembles, and as you can see by the picture there are always plenty of participants! I try and visit whenever I can really recommed it. Incidentally, Belladonna Arrowroot is usually in attendence and she is High Priestess of the Covenant of WISE, Church of Wicca.  Belladonna is lovely and very approachable, not at all grandiose as some Pagan hierarchy can be, plus she has her own website which I highly recommend. Oh, and a final note..my hands tingle like mad when I attend rituals in-world, and were absolutely buzzing after this. I presume this is because I’m Reiki attuned, but I’d be interested to read if any other SL Pagan folk experience the same! Let me know on the comments section below if you do, and I very much hope to see you there..oh, and be sure to sign up for news and messages from the Scared Cauldron and Pagan News groups while you are on site! ( Group joining boards can be found here)

Witchy Wednesdays (a bit late) Beltane Edition

In between blogging my shapes and recovering from my surgery I’ve been trying to find out which Pagan groups in-world will be holding Beltane rituals this weekend.  Beltane is a fire festival, so bonfires are a traditional way of celebrating this day. In days of old womenfolk would jump over the bonfire as a symbolic way of increasing their fertility; in fact, that’s what Beltane is all about.  May poles..what do they remind you of, hmm?  That’s right, Beltane goes hand in hand with Bonking!  It’s said that in olden times after the village celebrations had drawn to a close, many couples would make their way to the fields to make love and symbolically fertilise the earth to ensure a good harvest…It’s an earthy, lusty festival with a party atmosphere and a perfect way to celebrate the forthcoming summer!

So, what’s happening in Second Life this Beltane? One of my favourite Pagan sims, Gaia Rising, will be holding TWO rituals for Beltane.  These are on  Saturday May 1st at 6 PM slt and on Sunday May 2nd at 12pm noon slt, with the ritual being led by Enchantress Sao and Deadeye Foggarty, so I’m sure some of Deadeye’s wonderful music may be involved!

Beltane Circle at Gaia Rising

Having attended the Ostara ritual I can tell you it’s a lovely experience to be part of a Gaia Rising ritual.  If you have voice enabled then even better, because the rituals do tend towards using it and it’s especially nice to hear the quarters called and dismissed by ritual participants…all those accents from across the globe are simply fabulous to hear. You can still participate if you don’t have voice though; I was honoured to be asked to call and dismiss a quarter but my mic broke, so I wrote it in chat and it worked fine. (Tip, write in a note card beforehand then just publish it when asked so people don’t have to wait for you to finish your typing, it compromises the virtual energy in the circle if you have to wait a while)

I do recommend you arrive early if you intend to participate in the festivities here because the rituals are always well attended. Arriving around 15 minutes beforehand should do the trick.

Sacred Cauldron is holding a different kind of celebration on April 30th, at 7pm SLT. They’re choosing to focus this Beltane upon the energy of Venus, and plan an exploration of the senses, Second Life style! The organisers ask that participants wear tasteful lingerie to ‘delight the visual sense’, and request that attendees arrive with an emote that encapsulates a favourite physical sensation, eg eating chocolate, drinking vintage wine, smelling beautiful perfume., the choice is yours! The plan is to transcend the limitations of the virtual world and be taken on a sensory adventure.It sounds like this will be a very sensual ritual indeed, and I imagine it will be heaving with participants, so arrive early to secure your place. It’s going to be held in the Aphrodite tent area of the sim..doesn’t that sound enticing?

Aphrodite Tent Area at Sacred Cauldron

In fact, love is most definitely in the air at Sacred Cauldron for on May 1st at 5pm SLT, Belladonna Yarrowroot and Jackalope Farspire will be holding their handfasting.  Beltane is traditionally a time of such celebrations, and I’m sure many Pagan couples will be wed this weekend both in real life and Second.  If you’ve never attended a handfasting before, why not make use of Bella and Jack’s open invitation and attend their betrothal? This link will take you there.

I can’t find any notices that say Seasons Altar is holding a Beltane celebration, but it’s always nice to pay the sim a visit and light a candle at Spirit Falls.  It’s amazing to see how many candles are in situ there , and reassuring  to acknowledge that this little corner of  Second Life offers so many avatars a place to come light a candle and say a prayer when needed..

Oh, and don’t forget that the “Wheel Of  The Year Hunt- Beltane” is still ongoing. Refer to the blog for clues, and there is an in-world group that you can join too.

Finally, all that’s left is for me to leave you with this blessing, and wish you a wonderful Beltane however you decide to celebrate.  Me? I shall be doing a wee ritual alone, and will endeavour to attend one of the group rituals in-world.  I always enjoy a glass or two of wine and my annual viewing of ‘The Wicker Man’ at this time of year too!

Be thee Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Taking possession of all to me belonging.
Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest,
Protect me with truth and honor.
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones,
Blessing every thing and every one,
All my land and my surroundings.
Great gods who create and bring life to all, I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.