Cardassians

Star Trek has always been good for providing parallels to real-life through science fiction. There are so many lessons to learn by watching each episode. We can learn about our own society by looking at this fictional future.

One of those parallels is the Cardassians. The Cardassians are an empire ruled by their military. They’re often portrayed as conquerers and aggressors. One of the major plots of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was that Bajor had just gotten free of a fifty-year occupation by the Cardassians. The Cardassians enslaved the Bajoran people, committed lots of atrocities, stripped Bajor of much of its resources, and left a 50 year legacy on the Bajoran people.

In the wake of that oppression, a lot of Bajorans who have lived through the occupation have developed a lot of resentment towards Cardassians. 

In a Deep Space Nine episode called “Duet” in the first season, a Cardassian posing as the leader of a Bajoran labor camp arrived at the station. He boasted about the atrocities and murders committed under his command at the leadership. His taunts brought out some feelings of hatred from Kira, who has resentment towards all Cardassians. She blames the entire race of people for what the oppressors did to her planet. 

Kira has reasons to feel resentment. The occupation orphaned her and forced to live in caves and learn to fight in the resistance when she was still a child. Her years of being exposed to constant bloodshed and violence, to witnessing brutality and abuse, to always being on the verge of starvation, has made her an angry, traumatized, shell shocked individual with some intense animosity towards Cardassians. 

So when this Cardassian arrives on the station claiming to be the fictional Star Trek equivalent to a Nazi death camp leader, Kira was naturally upset. But later research revealed that the Cardassian, Maritza, wasn’t the camp leader at all but a simple file clerk. He had no part in the massacre and had been so affected and traumatized by it that he devised this elaborate scheme, changing his face to look like the camp leader in hopes of getting put to death. He thought his death would force Cardassians to recognize their guilt for what they did to Bajor.

This man was heroic but also suicidal. He felt that even though he wasn’t responsible for the massacre and the atrocities, he was willing to be punished for them. In the end, he was murdered by a Bajoran who couldn’t stand the sight of him simply because he was a Cardassian. This Bajoran man never took the time to learn about the Cardassian and learn that he wasn’t responsible for the massacre; he only cared that the Cardassian needed to be punished.

This was a compelling episode, and it made Kira realize that as horrible as the Cardassian occupation was, many Cardassians were just regular people, and it isn’t okay to judge an entire race for what their leaders did. 

In another episode in the second season called “Cardassians,” we meet a Cardassian orphan boy who was abandoned on Bajor after the Cardassians withdrew from the planet and was adopted and raised by Bajorans. This boy grew up surrounded by the people his people helped to subjugate. All around him, he was exposed to the terrible crimes Cardassians committed against the Cardassians. 

Although this boys adoptive parents treated him well, they didn’t hide their hatred for Cardassians from him and this boy developed some severe self-loathing and self-esteem issues that stemmed from being told day after day by everyone else around him, that he was the member of an oppressive race and that he should feel ashamed for what his people had done, even though he had nothing to do with them. This so emotionally damaged him that he said things like “I wish I wasn’t a Cardassian,” and when his real biological father showed up, the boy had nothing but hatred for him.

The metaphor for the Cardassians can be seen in real life society by looking at those descendants of conquerors in Earth history. English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and other descendants of Europeans who had nothing to do with the subjugation that their ancestors wrought upon the rest of the world. 

These two Cardassians are good examples of Cardassians who did nothing to warrant the hatred shown to them by Bajorans, and it illustrates the tendency by subjugated people to villainize all members of the ‘oppressor race’ regardless of actual guilt. This creates a culture of self-loathing, poor self-esteem, and a feeling that no matter what you accomplish in life you have to continue to prove yourself because you are still the member of an ‘oppressor race’ and you should be made to feel guilty for the sins of your forebearers, regardless of whether you committed such crimes.

I don’t think these episodes are promoting the idea that it’s okay to forget the past. What they are pointing out is that there comes a point in time when you have to learn to move on from the past. You have to heal from it and not blame innocent people for those who wronged you. And that is one of the many lessons Star Trek provides us with.

The Next Dimension

I published my first novel back in April of 2015, and I’ve been working hard and learning a lot about writing a novel since then. I’ve been building a companion book for my own use that will make writing book two and future books a whole lot easier. I wanted to talk a little about what you can expect in book two and how it’s going to carry on from book one. If you haven’t read book one yet, beware that there might be a few minor spoilers up ahead.

The first book, Waking up in a Dream was more of an introduction. We learned a little bit about Elliana, her back story, who she is. She is a shapeshifter who has been around for well over 3600 years. She was left on Earth following a devastating war on Terra, which resulted in the extinction of her people. She’s the last of her kind.

Some other characters are Leniboen, the Drikini who has come to spy on Elliana and her friends, Qil’durryl, the young Drikini boy who is trying to make something of himself despite people’s mistrust and hatred for him, Syladriel, the elf girl who was the sole survivor of a massacre, Birin and Kirin, two dwarf brothers, and Asphodel, the daughter of a Halfling spice merchant who has never been beyond the city walls.

Iorra Town itself is facing its own hardships with the mysterious murders and kidnappings that are turning this once peaceful trader’s town into a place of fear and paranoia. During this time of tension, the people naturally look for someone to blame for these tragedies. Qil’durryl, the lone Drikini, gets the blame because his people have a reputation for being evil. Kirin, the dwarf youth who out of anyone in the entire town, has formed a strong friendship with Qil’durryl, is caught in a dilemma of trying to defend his best friend. 

Book one ended with these travelers following their teacher towards the closed off and secretive kingdom of Dryolt. The kingdom has been quiet ever since the wars three thousand years ago, but rumors fly about what has been going on in Dryolt all these centuries. So, following the kidnappings, Thalion, the town administrator, and his young students, set out for the kingdom to see where things go.

That’s more or less how the first book ends — an uncertain future for both the characters and for Terra. In book two, things are going to take a different course. Elliana and Thalion and their group are just one group of characters dealing with their own slice of the plot. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Elliana’s friends have been searching for her, and they soon discover Earth’s part in this story. 

From book two on, the story will be about a few different settings. In Castillo Diablo, California, where Elliana had last lived on Earth before being brought to Terra, Charlie and his friends learn their own place in the grand scheme of it all. Across the country in the small town of Willow’s Fog, Maine, Kazimir, and his strange town of misfits have their own mysteries to unravel. 

The series deals with a large cast of characters and settings. The world-building process has been the most time-consuming aspect of this book. 

The premise is that there are two dimensions: the Earth dimension and the Terra dimension. The two dimensions are separated by the mysterious, supernatural, and magical dimensional ribbon that is next to impossible to penetrate unless you happen to come across one of the handfuls of portals scattered throughout Earth and Terra. 

On Earth, the year is 2030. For the most part, people are unaware of the existence of the Terra dimension. Earth is dealing with its own problems with wars, the rise of several political terrorist groups, environmental issues, and a company that seems to have their fingers in everything. Charlie and his friends are at the heart of this struggle as Charlie is a farmer, and he sees his Central California town struggle under the turmoil of drought and a rise of organized crime in the area. 

On Terra, a three-thousand-year-old peace between the secluded xenophobic kingdom of Dryolt and the friendly, inclusive, melting pot kingdom of Lameria is threatening to come undone. Other kingdoms and other planets threaten to become involved.

In the Terra dimension, we look to the many other worlds. Because Terra, like Earth, is one of nine planets in the solar system. The difference is that unlike Earth, all the planets in the Terra system have life. The inner planets, Lendadia, Adoalath, Terra, and Tendakor, have an unspoken alliance as the peace-loving planets. Of course, peace is only skin deep since Adoalath is the only one of these planets that is unified.

The Kutta and Shenti empires of moons make up the middle solar system, and while the peoples of the inner solar system have a magic-based society, Kutta and Shenti favor technology. Scientific discovery dominates the Kuttan way of life, and they are at the forefront of exploration of the solar system. The Shenti people are xenophobes and tend to keep their technology for themselves.

The outer solar system is home to Draoder, Wicedrikin, and Chaegan. This is a region of the solar system where few in the inner worlds would ever dare go. It’s a place of death and oppression. The Drikini of Wicedrikin live in a lawless world of masters and slaves where its survival of the fittest. The Draoder vampires have a system of complete evil, and the dragon-like Chaegans are known for their deadly raids.

That’s an overview of the worlds of The Next Dimension. I should mention that I’ve temporarily unpublished the first novel because I’m in the process of reformatting it, but it will be up again soon, and I’ll let you know when it is. I’ll provide a link to my Amazon profile once it’s up.

I won’t reblog or share your threatening memes.

Yesterday, on Tumblr, I came across a post that read “If you support gay marriage then reblog this, if you are a homophobe then keep scrolling, I will unfollow you if I don’t see this on your blog.”

I see way too many “reblog or else” or on facebook “share this or else” type of posts. A lot of them have to do with social justice, and they declare that if you don’t reblog or share, you are the enemy. These sorts of posts are passive-aggressive guilt trips, and I will never share or reblog them.

I don’t need to prove to all of my facebook friends that I am a good person. I know what I believe, I know where I stand, and I only need to prove that to myself. I don’t need to spam my Facebook or Tumblr friends with these threatening messages to be a good person. This is part of the reason why I don’t consider myself an activist either.

Yes, I believe in equality, I believe in social justice, I don’t think people should be discriminated against or judged unfairly because of their race, religion, gender, orientation, or anything. But I believe in equality for ALL human beings, that means the marginalized groups AND the so-called privileged groups. I don’t think it’s okay to judge or assume anything about a person just because of the color of their skin, their gender, or whatever they choose to be. But, I have never felt the need to prove to everyone around me that I believe these things.

I don’t need validation, and I especially don’t need to be threatened. Holding your friendship over someone’s head based on a ‘share’ or ‘reblog’ is extremely toxic behavior. Sadly, Tumblr has become notorious for this sort of thing. It’s become a den of negativity, toxicity, and baiting where people must belong to specific groups and continue to prove themselves by reblogging. These “reblog or else” posts crop up just about every day.

This “us and them” mentality where you have to prove that you are part of the team or be deemed a terrible person just for your silence is a very dangerous line of thinking. It’s what leads to extremism. This sort of “if you don’t believe what we do then you are a terrible person” attitude can have real consequences.

There could be many reasons why someone doesn’t want to reblog every message of social justice they see. Maybe that’s not why they have a Tumblr, and they don’t want to clog up their feed with this propaganda. Or perhaps they are shy and introverted and don’t like getting into debates with people on social media. Whatever the reason, your threatening them or calling them a homophobe or a racist or a bigot for not reblogging is harmful, and it reflects more on you than on them. If you really need validation, if you need the world to see you support these things, then maybe you need to work on your self esteem or your self confidence because you shouldn’t need other people’s approval, nor should you need to threaten others, in order to prove to yourself that you are a good person.

I do care about certain causes. I care about the environment; I care about people being mistreated; I care about all of those things. But I am not an extroverted person. I don’t like bringing unnecessary attention to myself as it opens up the possibility of conflict, and I am a very non-confrontational person. I am on Tumblr to enjoy my fandoms, and I am on Facebook to keep in touch with my family and friends. That’s all. I’m not there to debate with people, and I’m not there to join anyone’s cause.

I am a writer. When I do need to talk about my beliefs, my convictions, and what I support, that’s what I have this blog for. And that’s why I write fiction. That is how I show my support. That’s how I do my part, and that’s all that is required of me.

It’s not your job or my job to educate others if they don’t want to be educated. You aren’t responsible for anyone else’s actions but your own. I live my life trying to be the best person I can be, and if you don’t like the way I am doing it, then as I said, that reflects more on you than it does on me. I am comfortable with who I am. I am always changing, always exploring, but I am always true to myself. When you go around threatening others with your friendship if they don’t join your cause, all you are doing is alienating them and causing resentment. It doesn’t create support for your cause; it only drives people further away.

So instead of driving people away with your aggressive, toxic posts, why not be a source of dialogue? Instead of this, “us and them” mentality, don’t be afraid to talk to “the other side” calmly and without letting your emotions cloud your judgment. That’s the best way to be an activist, by reaching out to others, letting people ask questions, letting them know they can express their concerns without recourse. Try to bridge the gap, and people will come together, knowing that they are being listened to.

So just remember. I will never reblog your “reblog or else” messages. I will never share your “share this or you are a terrible person” memes. That isn’t why I’m on social media. If you want to know where I stand on an issue, or what I think about something, ask me! I may say I don’t know. That’s okay, I like to learn, but I like to learn in a positive non-toxic non-condescending manner, I don’t like being told how I’m wrong, and you’re right. Also, if you really want to unfriend me because I didn’t reblog your meme, then go ahead, chances are I don’t even know who you are and I don’t need that sort of toxicity in my life anyway.

Atheists vs. Theists

On this Identity Monday, I wanted to talk about something that I don’t think gets addressed a lot when talking about religion. And that’s atheists.

This is going to be a chance to call out some ideas and behaviors I’ve seen in atheists that I don’t necessarily think are very positive, so before I go any further, I want to point out that this is based off my own observations and it in no way reflects on an entire group. I don’t generalize and just because I observed this behavior in a few individuals, doesn’t mean I think this of the whole group.

First, let me start with some definitions and some things I believe. As a pagan, I identify as a polytheist. There is no wrong way to be a pagan, but in general, many polytheistic pagans fall into two camps: hard polytheists and soft polytheists. I’m part of the latter. Hard polytheists believe that the gods are all separate entities and worship them accordingly. So, Norse gods and goddesses, greek, Celtic, etc. You might worship Athena or Brigid, and you see them as separate goddesses.

Soft polytheists generally believe that the gods are part of the greater whole. You may worship individual gods or goddesses, but it’s not necessary because they are all aspects of one essence.

So there are pagans who are hard polytheists and pagans who are soft polytheists, there are pagans who kind of blend the two, there’s really no wrong or right in this. I tend to be a soft polytheist. I have a world pantheon of gods and goddesses that I honor, like Xochipilli, Artemis, and Brigid, but I don’t worship them. My God is the Universe itself. It’s the spirit, the essence that’s a part of all things. On a five-pointed star pentacle, it’s represented as the top point. It has no form; it’s neither male nor female; it’s just everything. I do believe in it as a higher power, and you could call it God or Goddess, but to me, it’s just Universe.

Now that I’ve established that, I want to address some thoughts I have about atheism. I feel like a lot of atheists have developed this superiority complex about their own beliefs (or lack of beliefs) where they somehow think they are more enlightened or more intelligent than theists. I’ve met a lot of atheists who have that attitude, but I don’t think they realize that they have the same mentality as the so-called ‘bible-thumpers’ that they preach against.

They use condescending language like calling our deities’ tooth fairies’ and equating our beliefs to beliving in superman or some other make-believe character. Their main adversaries tend to be Christians and Muslims, but as a pagan, I’ve been attacked by them too. They consider any belief to be a threat to them and whether they realize it or not, they can come off as preachy.

Whether you agree with this or not, but a lack of belief in the supernatural is still a belief. A belief that there is nothing is still a philosophy. If you think your beliefs are guided by science, you have to realize that science itself isn’t infallible. Believe it or not, science and religion can work together. I may be a spiritual person, but I am also a firm believer in science. I am a logical, reasonable person who still believes in a higher power.

There is no science out there that can prove or disprove the existence of God. Because metaphysics isn’t something tangible that you can study or analyze, it’s just a matter of human belief. You either believe it, or you don’t, and that’s all.

I believe in so-called mythology. As a historian, I understand that a lot of ancient myths out there are based on some truths. Take the myth of the Great Flood in the Bible, for instance. It’s one of the hundreds of great flood stories which include the Sumerian tale of the Epic of Gilgamesh. These myths seem to be centered around a particular area of the Fertile Cresent, but they are found all over the world. One theory is that this myth is based on the flooding of the Black Sea.

There’s evidence that suggests that there was a civilization at the bottom of the Black Sea and if you could imagine being part of the civilization of that time, you might not know about the world around you. All you know about is your general surroundings. So when the Black Sea flooded in, it might seem to you as though the whole world had flooded.

Another theory is that there could be evidence that the flood stories are evidence of a comet impact. Google Burkle Crater, a possible impact crater in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar that occurred around 3,000 BCE. The impact would have caused tsunamis, floods, and all sorts of destruction, all over the region.

Mythology may involve gods and superhuman powers, but mythology is often a way we humans try to explain what’s happening in the world around us. Ancient peoples didn’t have a concept of science; they didn’t know about comets or floods. They didn’t know why climates suddenly change or why volcanoes suddenly erupt. So they use mythology to explain these things. Many myths all over the world have a degree of truth to them, just enough to make you wonder. Historians and archaeologists actively use these myths to learn about possible natural disasters.

So it’s perfectly okay to believe in mythology because actual scientists have learned to take them seriously. They are clues to the past. And you can believe in myth and still be a person of science.

This is what I want atheists to realize. That when it comes to belief, there is no right or wrong answer. As enlightened as you think you are, you don’t know the truth because no one does. Not even science. As a quote once said, ‘science is at it’s best when it is constantly self-critiquing,’ meaning even science can be wrong. It changes as people’s understanding of it evolves. There is so much about the Universe that we don’t understand. It’s the whole mystery of it that makes it wonderful.

So Atheists. Kindly stop trying to shove your non-belief down other people’s throats. If you don’t believe in a higher power, that’s fine but don’t attack people around you who do. Don’t make fun of our beliefs just because you don’t understand them. Only accept that people can believe differently than you do, and that’s okay. We’re all human; we all draw our conclusions. My beliefs aren’t hurting you.

Yes, I know there are many religious people out there who get pushy and preachy. Standing on the corner telling everyone they are going to hell or telling you that you are living in sin. But when you go around invalidating people’s belief by shaming them or acting superior to them or using condescending words like ‘tooth-fairy’ how are you any different? You come off as just as preachy as they are. Learn to live and let live, as long as no one is hurting you; let us believe what we want. If someone wants to put a cross in their front yard, they should be allowed to. I do believe in separating religion from places like schools or government buildings just because I don’t think it’s fair to promote one religion over another. But what people do about their own private homes is not your concern.

I wear a pentacle. I don’t go around shoving my religion down people’s throats, and I have Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Atheist friends. I have friends who are Hindu; I have friends who are Buddhist. It’s all fine with me. As long as no one is being oppressed or hurt, as long as no one goes around trying to convert others or preach to them, it’s okay to share your beliefs and you shouldn’t have to be afraid of them. Because in the end, the Universe will remain mysterious, and no science or philosophy will ever know the truth.

PS. Grammarly tried to correct ‘pagan’ to ‘infidel’ guess even my spell checker can be a little preachy.

Fandom Culture

I can say that I belong to a few ‘fandoms’ and I am learning about fandom culture as it seems to have its own characteristics. For Fandom Friday, I wanted to talk about my involvement in fandom culture. 

I’ve made some amazing friends because of fandoms, but I’ve also encountered a lot of toxicity which has left me scratching my head a lot of the time. The sort of crazed fanaticism with which some people take their shows is a little disturbing. 

I’ve been actively involved in the Hobbit and Supernatural fandom. My very first and most endearing fandom has been Star Trek. Star Trek: The Next Generation aired when I was three, and I have been quite an obsessed fan ever since. I belong to the Star Trek fandom. It’s defined me in many ways.

Star Trek The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager all mark a particular time in my life. The Next Generation was my earliest childhood. I can honestly say that it was an incredible show for a girl growing up in the 80s and 90s to experience. It bestowed on me a sense of hard work and ethics. 

Deep Space Nine defines my adolescent years. My most formative years. And for this reason, it’s been my most powerful fandom. Even today, I still watch it almost every day. Kira was my favorite character, and she was such a huge role model for me. 

Star Trek Voyager was something I didn’t get into right away. When I get into fandoms, I tend to have tunnel vision for them, so I didn’t get into Voyager until it had already syndicated. But it represents my early community college years. It was also the first time I began to write fan fiction online, though it was just between a friend and me.

My husband, whom I met during my Voyager years, introduced me to X-files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Tolkein universe and it was with the Hobbit movies that I first started publishing fan fiction online. 

And then, just a few years ago, my husband got me to watch Supernatural, and it’s been my main fandom ever since. And it was with Supernatural that I began to become aware of fandom culture and some of its negatives. I learned the terms, like ‘ship’ and ‘slash’ and such, though I already knew about slash from Star Trek

Fandoms feel like families to me. The Star Trek fandom has always been very welcoming, and so has the Supernatural fandom. I’d say I ‘belong’ to Star Trek, Supernatural, and the Tolkien fandoms the most. 

But with the sense of belonging and family, I also encountered the negative aspect; the toxic fans who take things too far. They’ve become the bullies of fandom. You know who they are. The toxic shippers. The plethora of mostly teenage girls who dominate the fandom and decide what pairings should be popular and which ones shouldn’t be. And may the Universe help you if you dare ship the unpopular ones. Fandom culture has become similar to kids on a playground where the popular kids rule the roost and the ‘rare pair’ shippers, like myself, get bullied and ostracized. Don’t ever try mentioning you are a rare pair shipper on platforms like Tumblr because it’s known for this toxic fandom culture. If you are in the in-crowd, you have to watch yourself. Prepare to be made to defend your reasonings continually, be called out, and have your artwork hijacked by the popular kids. 

No other fandom has a reputation for this sort of behavior than Supernatural. And as I was a newcomer to the fandom, I didn’t grow up on it or anything; I had to learn the rules very quickly. Problem is… I’ve never been one for being told what to do or how I should live. Especially by popular kids.

My favorite Supernatural characters are Castiel and Hannah, the two angels. I love them because they remind me of being autistic. And Hannah is the closest I’ve ever seen in my fandoms to a female autistic person. So I relate to her. But she’s not very popular with the fandom because she interferes with the almighty Destiel. Dean and Castiel.

It’s a shame that fandom culture has become a platform for bullies, cliques, and hateful intolerance. It’s ripe with hypocrisy and straight-up fanaticism. I think that the celebs who have worked hard to bring us these wonderful shows would be disheartened to see this side of fans. And sadly, many of them have. 

Despite the negativity, there is still a lot of good things about fandom. I’ve met some of my closest internet friends in fandom groups and through fan fiction and fan art. It really does have a sense of family, and although it tends to be dominated by teenage girls, I, a 35-year-old autistic woman, have found people of all ages, genders, and walks of life find acceptance. 

If you follow a fandom, you are part of a tribe, a clan, and I think it’s important to be welcoming and tolerant of all.

One other thing before I sign out for the day, is I want to acknowledge the passing of Aron Eisenberg who played Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. RIP Nog!

Blog update and introduction

This will be a blog and a novel update. I wanted to talk a little bit about what the blog is about for people who are just starting to follow me, and a break down of what you’ll find here. I also wanted to talk about my novel, how it’s going, and when we might be able to expect the second installment.

First off, you may have noticed I’ve been absent a lot in September, that’s because of a few things. One, I’ve been taking a small break to brainstorm ideas for upcoming topics, and to think up where the blog is heading. Also, I have been helping my mother working in her office a lot this past month.

So for those who have just begun to follow me, this blog is broken up into three days. It’s essentially three blogs in one. So if you are here for only specific topics, feel free to tune in to those particular days. Mondays are what I’d call my Political Mondays. These are the days when I discuss issues of identity, society, and controversy. I try to bring a logical, reasonable side to the issues we see today.

On Mondays, topics can get a little controversial, so if you are easily offended, I’d advise you to skip Mondays. I cover things that are relevant to my identity. Things like my ethnicity, sexuality, religious preferences, on being autistic, childfree, and anything that might relate. Topics coming up this month include a discussion about Atheism, and a topic about intelligence, and of course, Samhain since we are coming into October.

Wednesdays should be known as Knowledge Wednesdays. I focus on topics pertaining to writing and graphic design, and I also give history and science lessons. I am writing a novel; you’ll get updates about that and advice about the craft of writing from character development to plot structure, to what it is to be a writer in this day and age.

I have been writing since I was a child and I became published in 2015. I’m self-published and am working on the second installment to my novel The Next Dimension. This is a science fiction/fantasy novel that tends to blend both genres. It’s about a fantasy world that exists on another dimensional plane, but in the same location as Earth. This is about the people who live in that world, on Earth and their interactions with one another.

I am also an avid fanfiction writer, and I have a lot to say about the validity of fan fiction and how it’s helped me improve as a writer. I really couldn’t have come this far without it.

In addition to writing, I hold a Bachelor’s degree in history with an emphasis on genocide studies, colonialism, and the two World Wars. My senior thesis was on the horrors of trench warfare during World War One. I’ve also taken classes on Mexican history and Latin American culture as my family origins are in Mexico.

In addition to my extensive background in history and writing, I am an aspiring graphic designer. I love art, I love to draw, paint, and for the last few years, I have been teaching myself how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. I want to get into freelance work, but I’m building a career from scratch, so it’s still in the developmental stages. And like fan fiction, my fan art has been an excellent way to practice my skills with technique.

I also have an interest in Astronomy, evolution, geology, paleontology, biology, and health. I read a lot, I do a lot of research, and I watch documentaries.

Fridays could be called Spiritual Fridays or Fandom Fridays. I’ll talk about my pagan craft, astrology, the gods, anything like that. I’ll also be talking about my favorite fandoms: Star Trek, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, X-files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I do critiques of my favorite episodes on occasion, and right now, I have been moving slowly through the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

So now that I’ve gone over what goes on here, I want to mention that I’ll be adding something to Wednesdays. Since it’s Knowledge Wednesday, Wednesdays are also days I’ll be talking about my own health and lifestyle goals. Things like nutrition, exercise, etc. I’m kind of new to the whole thing, but I’ve made it a goal to get healthier, and I’ll talk about what I learn along the way.

So to leave off, just a quick update about my novel. I am still working on the second installment, but I’ve put the book on hold while I construct something very important: A character and plot bible. As a fantasy/sci-fi novel, my story requires a lot of world-building, and I’ve had a ‘build as you go’ stance to it, but I’ve decided to reverse that course and focus solely on the world-building for the time being. Once it’s finished, I think it will make writing the second and future installments much more manageable. And I also intend to release it as a companion book.

So that’s an update and an introduction since I notice I’ve gotten a lot of new followers lately. Feel free to check out the blog; my posts are uploaded on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr automatically. Also, if you have any ideas for topics or if you’d like to be a guest blogger, please get into contact with me. You can do that via Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

Being autistic doesn’t excuse bad behavior

Being autistic, certain characteristics are common. Autism manifests itself in different ways and with differing degrees of severity, but some of the typical traits are bluntness and the inability to understand or to accurately convey subtle meanings. We can seem unemotional, detached, aloof, and often self-centered.

Of course, these characteristics are often how we cope with dealing with the stimulations of the world around us. I don’t handle conflict well, so I take measures to avoid it by appearing unemotional. Intense emotions are hard for me to handle, it’s like shorting out a circuit, so I tend to avoid situations that might cause intense feeling.

But does having these characteristics and traits give us a pass to be mean and rude to others? I don’t think so. I was in a Facebook group, and I read a thread from a woman, who encountered something at dinner she didn’t know how to deal with. She was at a restaurant when a child behind her turned around and screamed in her face.

The woman was autistic herself, and the sudden auditory stimulation sent her into a panic, but she didn’t know how to confront the child or the mother, so she was forced to endure. She mentioned this in the group, and commenters gave their opinion.

One common opinion I saw was that the adult should have to accept that this happened and understand that the child could have been autistic too. That opinion felt very unfair to me. If the child had autism, there still has to be some acknowledgment that violating a stranger’s personal space in unacceptable behavior. In other words, an autistic child shouldn’t get a pass from having to learn how to live in this society with other people. Children become adults, and autism doesn’t just go away. By using autism as an excuse for poor behavior, it encourages kids to use it as a crutch, and think they get a free pass.

By violating this woman’s personal space, assaulting her with their screaming, the child brought the woman to the brink of a meltdown herself. But being an adult, there seems to be less sympathy for her and more for the child and the parent of the child who didn’t seem concerned that their child did this to a stranger.

Despite being aloof and often unemotional outwardly, I would feel terrible as a child if I thought I had hurt someone. I’d feel ashamed and embarrassed, even if I didn’t show it. The fact that the child didn’t seem to feel a sense of remorse over their actions is alarming. That’s not autism, that is a lack of discipline.

And by discipline, I don’t mean physically beating a child; I only say that perhaps the child should learn that their actions have consequences. They should be removed from the environment if they can’t cope with it. Taking them outside and perhaps explaining to them why their action was inappropriate would be a great action to take.

Teaching and learning is always an excellent form of discipline. Showing the child why their action was wrong, why it was hurtful, might instill a sense of remorse and regret. It certainly would to me.

I think it’s important to remember that your autistic child will become an autistic adult and the kind of adult they become is still up to you. Autism doesn’t dictate how we all turn out; our environment does. If we are given the right resources and help as children, we can learn to cope as adults. Because autism doesn’t go away just because we turn 18 and we are still going to need to learn how to survive in the real world.

Why Witches Thanksgiving should be everyone’s thanksgiving

Witches Thanksgiving

I believe that Witches Thanksgiving should be real Thanksgiving. Let me explain why. Mabon, also known as the Autumn Equinox, falls around September 20-22 every year. It marks the real beginning of autumn when, in the northern hemisphere, the daylight hours are even. From here, the days grow shorter. 

Mabon has always been a day of gratitude. It’s a time to give thanks for the bountiful harvest we’ve enjoyed through the spring and summer months, and to be thankful for the good things around us. Because, in old times, looking towards the long dark winter brought feelings of worry and concern. Did we stock up enough food to get us through the winter? Will we have famine? Is it all going to be enough?

In the United States, Thanksgiving is in November, and we all know the story of how the pilgrims supposedly sat together with the Native Americans and peacefully ate a feast. We now know that this pleasant scenario is mostly false. The Thanksgiving story that we’ve all learned in school is wrong and that the real history between the Pilgrims and “Indians” was far bloodier than we’ve been taught.

This is why celebrating the beginning of Autumn in September with a thanksgiving feast is far better than November. This is the time it was celebrated in ancient times, and this is the time it’s celebrated by many pagans today. 

In many parts of the world, its still warm in September but the signs of autumn are everywhere. Here in Southern California, we don’t get a change in the leaves, and we are still feeling a few triple digits as far as weather. We don’t typically get four seasons anyway, so any ‘feelings of autumn’ we get around here is mostly artificial and highly commercialized. 

But imagine if we could enjoy Thanksgiving in September. It would mean more to honor the equinox rather than a massacre. Most kids go back to school in August, so they’d enjoy a short break for Thanksgiving a month into their calendar, rather than so close to the winter holidays. It would be an excellent time to get the family together as well.

One significant benefit I can think of is that we could enjoy our Thanksgiving. There would be no Black Friday to usher in the Christmas season. Christmas often overshadows Thanksgiving since stores are getting ready for the holiday consumerism before the turkey is even finished. Imagine being able to slow down and enjoy the turkey, not having anxiety about the frenzy to follow.

And the best part? The retail worker in your life will actually get to join you for Thanksgiving. They won’t be giving up their Thanksgiving to risk getting trampled by the hordes of Black Friday shoppers. 

So consider celebrating the day of gratitude in September. The Autumn equinox falls around September 20-22 every year, and in the southern hemisphere, they will be celebrating the Spring equinox. After all, pagan festivals like Yule and Ostara have already been brandished into Christmas and Easter. 

If you don’t like how commercialized Thanksgiving has become and you don’t agree with covering up the terrible history behind it, Mabon is perfect. You can still have your turkey and mashed potatoes, you can still celebrate the magic of autumn and have a chance to celebrate gratitude and being thankful for what you have, but you will also be honoring the ancient past by honoring the true spirit of autumn.

The history of Mexico: Origin of the Aztecs

Mexican Independence Day

Monday, September 16th, was Mexican Independence day. From September 16th, 1810 to September 27th, 1821, Mexico fought an eleven year battle for independence from Spain. It was a long bloody decade that cost more than 250,000 lives. 

Mexico has had a long, tumultuous history since becoming an independent country. While I was studying history, I took a class on the history of Mexico up until the Mexican Revolution, and much of what I know about Mexican history comes from that class. 

As those who pay attention to my blog posts on my personal beliefs should know by now, my ancestors are a significant part of my beliefs. I am always looking for ways to honor my forebears. My heritage is mostly Spanish, Native American, and Irish, but my most recent origins are in Mexico. 

So as part of a chance to honor my ancestors, I’ve begun to incorporate celebrating important events in Mexican, Irish, Spanish, and Native American history into my wheel of the year festivities. And Mexican Independence day is an important one. Another one is an important event during the Mexican American war, which few Americans are even aware of. That is the Battle of Chapultepec on September 12th and 13th, 1847.

These two events were significant in Mexican history, yet aren’t known well by most Americans. Mexican history is American history since Mexico boasted some of the largest and most complex civilizations on the continent, and Spain’s involvement in Mexico happened long before England became involved in the Americas.

So in honor of Mexican Independence Day, I am going to introduce a series of blogs on Mexican history starting with the Aztecs. I’m also going to do a historical series on Irish history from the Celts and Spanish history from the earliest mentions of the Iberian peninsula.

So let’s talk about the Aztecs. First off, it’s important to note that the Aztecs were not the first inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico. They were immigrants themselves. Civilizations like the Toltecs, and further down in the Yucatan, the Maya and the Olmecs had lived in what is now Mexico before the arrival of the Aztecs. But by the time the Spanish arrived in 1519, the Aztecs were the dominant civilization in the region, having conquered many of the surrounding tribes.

The Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico around the beginning of the 13th century. When Europe was marred in the turmoil of the crusades and Asia was feeling the wrath of Genghis Khan, these wanderers from the desert had begun to arrive in the region that would one day become Mexico City.

It’s uncertain where the Aztecs came from, just that they came from Northern Mexico. They speak Nahuatl, a Uto-Aztec language. The Uto-Aztecan language family is one of the largest language families in North America and includes such languages as Hopi, Piman, and Zuni. Some archaeologists think that the Aztecs are some of the descendants of the ancient Anazasi people whose civilization in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest had begun to decline around the same time as the Aztec’s exodus from the area. 

The Aztecs called themselves the Mexica, the people of the sun. They spend generations wandering before they came to the Valley of Mexico; they were searching for a new homeland. When they arrived, they were treated harshly by the Toltecs, who were the dominant power in the region. They were relegated to living on a small swampy island infested with snakes where the Toltecs hoped they would die out.

But, as the Aztecs struggled in this harsh land, they saw an omen. They believed in a prophecy that said they would know they had reached their homeland when they saw a hawk feasting on a snake while perched on a cactus. This was their omen, and this is what they saw when they got to this island. This hawk and snake omen is the symbol seen on the Mexican flag today, and it has its origins with the Aztecs.

Once the Aztecs, or the Mexica as they called themselves, saw this symbol, they knew their long years of wandering was over, and this was their new home. So they worked hard, despite the Toltecs attempt to exterminate them. They reclaimed land from the lake and began building one of the largest cities ever to exist in Pre-Colombian North America: Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan became the center of the mighty Aztec Empire which spread out all over the valley of Mexico. The Aztecs may have traded with the Maya, and the Maya heavily influences their culture. They were very spiritual people who believed in a duality in nature: light needs the dark and life needs death. This yin and yang philosophy governed their spiritual lives.

So the origins of the name Mexico and the Mexican flag come from the Aztecs. Even though the Spanish aimed to destroy them, they persisted, and their legacy is seen everywhere. The November festival the day of the dead has its origins in Aztec belief.

So that is the first of a series in Mexican history which I’ll post about at random intervals alongside other Wednesday topics. In the meantime, feel free to honor Mexican Independence Day because, without Mexico, civilization on the North American continent may be quite different.

Sources: Wikipedia, my classes, and the documentary 500 nations produced in 1995 by CBS and hosted by Kevin Costner.

Childfree isn’t wrong

In this day and era, we’ve made massive progress in gaining acceptance for things that may not have been as acceptable not so long ago. Women’s rights, racism, LGBT rights, all of these are good things, and while we have a long way to go, we’ve certainly come a long way. But there remains one lifestyle choice that remains so taboo that few people can stand even talking about it. And that is the choice of whether or not to have children.

Why is this still considered so controversial? The choice to have children or not to will never affect anyone except the people making the decision, so why is it still so wrong to even talk about it? Why must people who are undecided about having children often feel pressured by society or made to think that there must be something wrong with them if they realize that becoming a parent isn’t for them?

The choice to reproduce or not is still the one thing in women’s rights that has yet to be challenged. Yes we can use birth control, yes we have access to abortion services (if we don’t live in Alabama), but things like voluntary sterilization are still something we have to fight for. And our decision and choices are always being questioned by people around us.

But many friends I’ve talked to are not as fortunate as me. Their own families have villainized many of these women because they decided they don’t want children. As if a simple life choice could be so terrible. 

And my thought is, isn’t it better to choose not to have children if you aren’t sure you want them, rather than give in to social pressure to have them and risk regretting it? It’s not exactly something you can take back, and children deserve to be wanted.

I’m not going to get into the reasons why I don’t want to have children myself. That isn’t relevant, and really, I could write a novel listing the reasons why, but the only reason that matters is simple: I don’t want kids. I mean no one goes around asking each other why they do want kids, do they? So why is the reverse alright?

What’s important is that this remains a considerable barrier to true social tolerance. People can choose to be vegan, they can choose what religion they want to be part of if any, they can make these sorts of lifestyle choices for themselves, and while many of them receive questions and judgments over these decisions, they are becoming more and more acceptable. Vegans are even marketed as a niche group now. But being childfree is still such a taboo subject that some of us fear to come ‘out’ for fear of judgments and questions and even attacks. 

People call the childfree selfish, but the decision to have or not to have children is inherently self-motivated. You can’t be asked ‘why do you want or not want’ children without responding with some sort of ‘I want’ phrase. I want to carry on my family line. I want to give my mother grandchildren. I want to pass on my genes; I want to teach the younger generation my beliefs. I want someone to take care of me when I get old. I think it will save my marriage. 

Those are all reasons to want children. And I’m certainly not going to stand in anyone’s way if they have one of the above reasons. Because your life choices should be about you in the long run. Sure, it’s good to be environmentally and socially aware, to care about the Earth and all its inhabitants, it’s important to feel compassion for others, but you are the only one who can live your life, so it’s important that your decisions make you happy. No one should have to be a martyr. 

And maybe you don’t have a reason for wanting kids, maybe you just want them, and that’s okay too. But understand the other side of it. It’s perfectly okay to decide to opt-out, and it’s okay if your neighbor chooses to opt-out. They don’t need to justify their decisions to you. For me, I just don’t want children. I do have reasons, but they are my reasons.

I think it’s important for people to start talking about this decision. We need to make it not taboo. Express to the younger generation that they don’t have to choose parenthood if it’s not something they feel right about. There would be a lot less unwanted children in this world if we were honest about our desires and did what made us happy instead of caving to social pressure. 

I also leave with this double standard: It was a lot easier for my husband to choose to get a vasectomy than it would have been for me to convince a doctor to tie my tubes. I’ve heard dozens of stories of women spending decades trying to persuade a doctor to take her seriously, but all my husband had to do was sign a waiver, no doctor questioned his decision, no doctor refused his request, and no doctor tried to talk him out of it. All they did was make sure he understood it was permanent and that they weren’t liable for him changing his mind somewhere down the line. Because it is so much more taboo for a woman to not want children than for a man, if a woman doesn’t want children, there much be something wrong with them, and maybe they’ll change their minds later because they don’t really know what they want.

And maybe they will change their minds, but people change their minds about their lives all the time. It’s called being Human. It’s okay to change your mind about things. It’s okay to regret things. It’s okay to wonder about the road you chose not to take. But your regrets shouldn’t end up harming another person, especially one who is dependant on you.