Copy and Paste Research

When I was working on Sew Witchy, I did a lot of research. Like a lot. During that research, I consulted a book called Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering. It had a lot of information on sewing and clothing superstitions. What it didn’t have, though, was any sourcing on where these superstitions were sourced from. When I turned to the internet to try to verify the information, all I found was rampant copy and paste. Websites would quote information about not giving scissors as presents or being tools against witchcraft. The majority of these didn’t so much quote the book as offer up the information wholesale without attribution.

This didn’t really surprise me. From my first web searches for pagan and witchcraft information, I discovered that original scholarship tends to be limited when it comes to the internet. There are hundreds of pages devoted to topics like herbal magic, color correspondences, deity information, etc., and often those pages will offer up the same information, either verbatim or slightly rearranged.

In the end it didn’t matter, as I ended up not using any of the information from Pickering’s book in mine. Sew Witchy is my first non-fiction, first sewing and first pagan/witchcraft book. I wanted to make sure my information was well researched and solidly supported, preferably by multiple sources.

I’m now in the research stage for another pagan book and I’m finding myself running into this issue again. While researching the topic of magical houseplants I come across the same list of herbs with the same information cribbed from Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. I understand why. The book is a solid reference tome for herbal magic. But I can’t wonder if a reliance on it and other books that were published in the past haven’t stifled more research. There are huge gaps in Cunningham’s that could be addressed by practicing witches and pagans. (This current book isn’t focused on herbal magick, which is why I am looking to others for information.)

I’ve got a handful of pagan herbal books requested through inter-library loan that are on their way to me. They may contain expanded and more contemporary information. I can’t help but wish that that information would find its way to the internet, however, as not everyone has access to these books. Granted, I am writing my own book to be published and the information therein will be made similarly unavailable to a portion of pagans that might want it. The issue is complicated and not suited to a short blog post.

Perhaps twenty years from now I’ll search whatever the internet is at that time and find passages from Sew Witchy pasted on blogs and on small witch wikis.

Take Off & Nuke It From Orbit

Sometime over the last forty-eight hours this site got hacked. Sometime in the last four hours I realized I have never backed up my site. Not even once.

This comes on the tail end of a six day battle to get my computer back up and running after I decided to fix how slow it had become by restoring it to factory settings. Reader, it did not fix anything. In fact it made things worse. My computer is a slight machine, a Lenovo Thinkpad 2 named Ada, purchased in 2013 to replace my previous laptop which had literally started melting.

My previous laptop, Caliban, which started leaking goo from various spots. There was also bubbling in the monitor.

After days of wrestling with failed updates, failed restores, failed refreshes and failed downloads, I was facing the grim prospect that I would be without a computer. I don’t have the funds to get a replacement.

All of this came on the heels of making the decision to focus on my writing. I have Sew Witchy coming out in December. I have an agent interested in reading my fantasy novel (which I foolishly queried before it was finished). I was just invited to submit an article for Llewellyn’s Witch Almanac. All of this put me in need of an actual computer. I was seriously facing the prospect of trying to type, write and edit on my phone. And as cool as my phone is, and as much as I depend on it for a variety of tasks, I didn’t relish the idea.

On the sixth day, however, I managed to get my Ada, to a point that would work. I have Windows 8.1 installed. The only programs it is running are paint.net, KG-Chart Pro, and an antivirus program. I’ll be using Google Docs for my word processing. I really don’t need any more than that.

Which leads me back to this site and the sudden dearth of posts. My hosting company told me that the hack to my site was one that required professional servicing. I realize that might just be a come-on to get me to shell out money to the company they suggested. I considered for a hot minute trying to dig out the malicious code myself. The prospect didn’t excite me and I found myself strangely non-bothered by this turn of events. Maybe I had been worn down by six days of fighting my computer. Whatever the reason, I looked at the whole mess and realized I was okay with saying goodbye to six years posts.

I decided that it was best to just take off and nuke the whole thing from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.

So that’s where we are now. I might try to salvage past posts. But since I can’t know if malicious coding has infected them, it won’t be a fast or easy processes. I’m just going to move forward. Start posting regularly. Work on the novel and articles. Update my Patreon. Close the door on that chapter of life.