30 Aug 2009

Summer's End.

Well, it's typical August Bank Holiday weather in my neck of the woods... wet, windy and none too warm! It's a real shame because there are loads of things going on round here over the week end hoping to attract the final flush of visitors and raise money for various worthy causes. There are village fetes, horticultural shows, beach clean-ups, guided walks, even a classic car show! I suppose we should know better than to plan outdoor events that rely on good weather in this country at any time of the year, but we always hope for the best. It's a prime example of the triumph of hope over experience!

It's really starting to feel as if summer's almost over now. The swallows have left for sunnier climes, the Elderberries are darkening, the Sycamore leaves are curling up and turning brown. Before long we'll be taking baskets with us every time we go for a walk to gather Elderberries, blackberries, hips, haws and Rowan berries for wine making. Not to mention the plums from the garden, which make a deliciously fruity rose wine, as well as the apples and pears for cider and perry! But we always make sure we leave plenty behind to feed the wildlife over the winter... "Take three and leave one" my grandfather used to say and I still stick to that today.

26 Aug 2009

Christian-made Pocket Pentacles! Updated.

Well, WoodenTreasures is at it again, this time an even more blatant direct rip-off! He's decided to copy my Pocket Pentacles, albeit, not very well! I had this particular copycat incident pointed out to me, simply because the title of the listing was so similar to mine. These people must think I make a fortune if they imagine it's worthwhile actually trying to trick the buying public into thinking they're buying one of my items rather than an inferior copy! I'd like to be charitable and say that obviously it's just a coincidence and that this Etsy ideas thief has come up with these pentacle talismans all on their own, but I think calling them "Pocket Pentacles" is a bit of a give-away! :-)

Maybe this seller thinks I'm new to all this and doesn't realise how long I've been selling online on eBay (just for the record, I sold my first Pocket Pentacle on eBay in October 2007) or maybe they think it's OK to steal someone's ideas as long as they're foreign, or a woman, or a non-christian. Because the oddest thing of all, something that doesn't even make me angry but just confuses the hell out of me, is that WoodenTreasures is a "proud member" of the Etsy Christian Artists' Street Team. What the hell is someone who's a member of a christian group doing making pentacles in the first place? And why do they make a point of saying in the listing for these pentacles that they should be carried to bring luck and power and that the seller actually keeps one in the car and another on his boat? And if he really does carry pagan talismans for their magical properties, what's he doing calling himself a christian? The only conclusion that I've been able to come to is that this person is not only a thief, but also a liar. Either he's a christian and has no idea of pagan values and it's all just a ruse to cash in on the whole "pagan lifestyle" fashion in the hope of making a few dollars, (and he wouldn't be the first) or he is a pagan, which means he's a member of a christian Etsy team under false pretenses. Either way, he's a liar.

And there's just one more thing, that suggests that either he doesn't actually care about the welfare of his customers or he's remarkably ignorant of the origin of his materials. He finishes all the items in his Etsy shop with tung oil. That's not so unusual... tung oil gives a water resistant, glossy finish which is easy to apply. However, the oil is processed from the tung nut and there's not a word of warning to anyone who may suffer from nut allergies. A nut allergy isn't at all trivial, it's a serious, extremely rapid, potentially life threatening condition, that can however be avoided by simply avoiding any contact with nuts or nut products. In my opinion, a warning from the seller would be thoughtful, even if it's not legally required.

It's been pointed out to me that this seller no longer publicises his christianity. Maybe he's had a crisis of faith or maybe he's decided to come out of the broom closet, but at least he appears to be more honest about his beliefs now which is good. Faith is all about honesty. And if he really has joined the growing number of pagans in the world then I bid him welcome.

16 Aug 2009

Copying on Etsy

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, and sure enough another Etsy seller has started copying my ideas. Part of the reason I left eBay was because so many sellers were copying my work (I got to 84 *Stick Stoats in 3 years before I gave up counting!) and I’m sad to see it starting to happen on Etsy as well. I’d imagined, naively I guess, that the people who make up the Etsy community wouldn’t stoop to steal ideas from one another, partly because there seemed to be such a strong community spirit and sense of honour there, and partly because they are mostly high quality artists, artisans and crafters who shouldn’t need to steal ideas. However, a seller calling themselves WoodenTreasures has started to sell pendants suspiciously similar to the ones I’ve been selling there for the last 7 months. One curious coincidence is that I sold my first pendant on Etsy on the 13th of January and they listed their first one (in the same style as mine) on the 13th of August… and as the number 13 is said to be lucky for Witches I'll take that as a good omen! ;-)

It’s the first time I’ve seen a direct rip off of my work on Etsy, and I have to say I’m disappointed. (There is a seller with rune dice roughly the same shape as mine, but they’re made from plastic and appear to have the symbols marked on in no particular order, so they don’t count as a copy.)

However, unlike some I’m not out of ideas of my own yet, and will shortly be presenting the wonderful world of Etsy with something new for your delectation and delight… made, of course, with my usual care and attention to detail, not to mention traditional methods, natural finish and all round eco-friendliness!

**So look out for my new range of hair sticks and shawl pins, all exclusive to me of course! ;-) Maybe I should also go into button production, doing the work with power tools would be both quick and easy so I’m sure I could offer them at a very reasonable price…

*Stick Stoats was a name I came up with to categorise the ever-growing band of folks who were directly copying almost everything I put up on eBay. It was a kind of club for people who, due to their almost total lack of any kind of original thought, felt themselves duty-bound to rip off any ideas of mine that appeared even remotely successful. At one point I actually included their names in several listings, but they showed themselves to be singularly lacking in a sense of humour and insisted that I remove them from public view. There were also sellers who were copying chunks from my listings straight into their own pages, or making their photos resemble mine, or wording their item titles in an exceedingly similar way. However, the title of Stick Stoat was solely confined to people attempting to craft wands, pendants, pentacle talismans and the rest to look virtually identical (at first glance, anyway) to the ones that I make. I think what I found the most insulting wasn't so much that people admired my work enough to want to emulate it, but that they all seemed to do it so badly! Not one of them appeared to have any kind of practical woodworking skill or talent, let alone any idea of genuine pagan spirituality, and I'm extremely glad to note that most of them seem to have failed dismally in their attempts to make a fast buck from the pagan community.

**That's a joke, I haven't the slightest inclination to copy anyone else's items, ideas, style, range or life. (Good grief, did you really think I would?)

1 Aug 2009

Storage Bags for Wands and Pre-Written Spells

I've had several emails recently asking me why I don't do what it seems every other online wand and rune seller does and provide cute little bags for you to keep your wands or runes in, an instruction sheet for runes and ready made spells for you to dedicate/consecrate/bond with your new wand. I explain in every rune listing just why you don’t get a bag or instructions with them, so I’ll just tell you here why you don’t get wand bags or ready made, one-size-fits-all magic spells from me!

Basically, I don't give you a wand bag because you don't need one. It won't keep your wand "safe", all it will do is keep the dust off it, and you shouldn't leave it lying around for long enough for it to collect any dust! In order to buy or sell online you should be over 18 and as that means you are an adult, I give you credit for being able to take adult decisions, such as how and in what to keep your wand. I don't expect you to keep your wands in a bag just because you're (falsely) led to believe that everyone else does. In reality people keep their wands in bags, boxes, drawers, wrapped in cloth, on their bedside table, in the sideboard, on a shelf, pretty much anywhere you can think of! One of the nicest suggestions I've heard was from a customer of mine who said she keeps her collection in a glass vase, proudly on display to the world. If you feel it would be nice to have a bag for your wand then you should make one yourself, by hand. We all know that when it comes to sewing, "hand made" is not the same as "hand sewn" and tradition informs us there should not be any trace of machine working near your magical tools. However, exactly how you choose to store your own magical tools is entirely up to you, and I'm not going to start dictating to you what you should or shouldn't do because it's not my decision… in fact it's none of my business what you do with your wand!

I don't provide other people with spells because I don't trust “off-the-shelf” magic myself. In order to be meaningful a spell should be in your own words, so it sounds like your own speech pattern rather than sounding as if you're reciting something you've learned. Remember how terrible those poetry recitals were at school? You'll find it difficult to be sincere while casting spells if you can hear yourself sound like that! Magic needs to be spoken from the heart, and your own words are obviously better for that than somebody else's. Also, you can never be entirely certain of the intent of the person who wrote the spell you are going to perform, and I can't believe there's going to be a huge amount of sincerity in something people produce for money. And as for printing it on expensive, parchment type paper (rolled up so they can call it a scroll!) for you to stick in your Book of Shadows... I'm very nearly speechless! Your Book of Shadows is probably the most intensely personal magical item you will ever have, containing your own spells, recipes, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams. The reason it’s important that it’s handwritten is because the effort you put into writing provides a strong personal bond; adding part of yourself is in itself a magical act. The thought of gluing a piece of paper in it that contains a commercially printed version of mass produced magic just makes me shudder!

I try not to put any of myself into the magical items I create, because they're not for me to use. I sincerely hope they would be thoroughly cleansed before anyone used them for anything anyway, so there wouldn't really be much point. What I'm getting at is that your magical implements are yours alone, they shouldn't really even be touched by anyone else, and any magic you perform should contain your will and intent rather than someone else's, and only you can put that into words.