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Expanding the Project

This project is officially expanding to include all Pagans with any kind of impairment or challenge–physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise. I am seeking readers as well as writers. Please visit the Facebook group.
Merry Meet,
Earthwitch

Finding Accessible Books

We all know books are key to any Pagan path, because they offer different methods and perspectives. They can be practical, such as herb guides and spell books, or philosophical, such as books on tradition and history of any given path.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find professionally-read recorded books.
A lot of us probably take advantage of the site Bookshare, which provides formats that can be read by JAWS or by the robotic voices provided for Victor software.
For my part, I strongly dislike the fact that as Pagans, the limited number of accessible texts we can find are mainly done this way, and yet books of the three major religions are widely available.
Here are a few suggestions.
One thing I do is purchase books, scan just the table of contents, and refer to this computer document when I wish to look something up. I find that page number, and scan the chapter so I can read it and take a few notes for future reference.
Certain facilities will Braille or record shorter texts, some for free, others for a fee.
Audible carries a guide to Rider-Wait tarot, two books on Wicca, and meditations, but little else.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we spoke with Llewellyn Worldwide, asking them to work with Talking Books to get more texts up on Bard for free, and got them working with other recording studios to get downloadble books on Audible?
This is possible, if we come forward and make a clear, persuasive case in writing. Llewellyn is dedicated to the Pagan community. The other publishing companies want to make a profit (otherwise the audio book industry would not exist). If we appeal to them in these ways, we can get what we need. We deserve quality material.

Fire Without Sight

by Solstice Singer (contributor)

Pagans believe in the power of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. For those of us who are blind or have impaired vision, three out of the four pose no problems. Fire, on the other hand, has proven frightening, and even dangerous, for some of us.

I have to start off by saying that not all visually impaired or blind people have difficulty with fire. Just because some of us do, one should not leap to the conclusion that we all do. However, if you are someone who is blind or visually impaired, and the idea of fire is distressing to you, I hope this article will give you some helpful hints.

So, let’s start off with a discussion of a variety of lighting techniques. Many people light fires with cigarette lighters. I know of several blind people who have no difficulty with this at all. For me personally, that kind of lighter requires me to get just a little too close to the flame. I prefer to use a long-handled lighter, something you might use to light a barbecue or fireplace. That way, I can line the end up with the candle or incense stick and light it, without feeling like I could burn myself at any second. Still other people prefer matches. I’ve heard people with low vision talk about having success with these, but I haven’t heard of any blind people who use this method. Of course, if you do, that’s great. You might leave a comment to this post, explaining how you do it.

Some people decide that working with fire is just too dangerous. So, they use the unlit candles as symbols of fire. Others talk about using battery-operated, flameless candles instead of those that require lighting. Sometimes, people are reluctant to admit that they don’t actually light candles for fear of being thought of as less capable. Let me assure you that Paganism isn’t about following every single rule you’ve ever been taught. Instead, it’s about finding what works best for you in a variety of situations. So, if lighting candles just doesn’t work, feel free to do something else.

If you’d rather not mess with candles at all, you might consider finding something that reminds you of fire, and having that be your physical representation of the element. Many people have chosen to use cinnamon for this purpose. Others have told me that obsidian is their fire symbol. Again, find what works for you.

I also want to address the topic of incense. These do require lighting, but they do come in different styles. There is the traditional incense stick, a cone-shaped incense, incense disks, and incense powder that is burned in a charcoal burner. From what I understand, the discs can also be burned in the charcoal burner, although, since this is not a method I use myself, I can’t say too much about it. Cone-shaped incense are burned in small holders with tops on them. The tops resemble chimneys, and the smoke comes out the hole. Many blind people prefer cones because there is no danger of falling ash. However, it has been my experience that cones are harder to light if you can’t see, as they seem to burn best if you light them from the exact tip. I use incense sticks. At first, the falling ash alarmed me. In fact, I burned holes in several altar cloths before I found something that worked. Most Pagan shops or online retailers will sell a coffin-style incense burner. This style of burner allows the stick to be placed inside, and the lid closed. The top is vented, and the smoke escapes through the vents. I have found this to be the safest way to burn incense, as the ash is contained in the holder, and so, I don’t have to worry about where it might fall.

All of the information I’ve given here is based on my experience, and the experiences of those I know. It is in no way meant to be representative of all blind or visually impaired Pagans. As I said before, find what makes you the most comfortable, and let it shine.

These are places I have tested with JAWS for accessibility, and all of them are very easy to use. Some have some minor issues, which I will highlight.

Ritual Magick
http://www.ritualmagick.net
Carries candles, incense, burners, charcoal, books of shadow, some crystals, jewelry, divination tools, ritual garments, athames, books (in print), DVD’s, and other tools . Descriptions are reasonable, check out is easy. Certain things may be larger or smaller than expected, but everything is high-quality. Some pages have headings to navigate by, others don’t. Check out is straight forward.

Howl at the Moon Gems and Jewelry
http://www.howlatm.com
Crystals, stones, some jewelry and candles, among other things. Site is easy to navigate, check-out may be somewhat difficult when selecting the state you are from and choosing Paypal or credit card. If you wait and try a couple of times and it doesn’t work, you might need someone to use the mouse, unless you have VoiceOver. I will discuss this with the owner, with whom I have a long-standing business relationship. If you call, the store owner is extremely helpful in describing stock.
Update: as of the last time I placed an order, I had no difficulty with checkout.
Star Woman Crystals
http://www.starwomancrystals.com
Easy to navigate, but somewhat expensive. Assistance over the phone is excellent.
Update:
http://www.13moons.com
Sells a wide variety of every tool, plus some fun stuff. Easy navigation, easy checkout, great customer response.

UNHELPFUL:
The store Sacred Power Of Witchcraft is fairly navigable. However, checkout can be difficult and I encountered resistance asking for help.

Another thing I recommend is seeking out smoke shops, places like the Candle Barn in local malls, or places that sell mineral specimens for other processes. Make sure to cleanse whatever you purchase from these places. Another good resource if you know Pagans with sight is someone within your community who makes candles. They can be more descriptive. Rock tumblers are relatively inexpensive (usually around $40 if you get a smaller one).
Stores like Spencers sometimes sell pentacle jewelry.

Greetings, VIP’s

This is an online resource guide for the visually impaired Pagan.
Here you will find:
References to sites carrying accessible books, and places where tools can be purchased.
Stories of other blind Pagans.
Conversation and community.
A words-only rune guide, and other documents that have been modified.
Fun stuff like information about Pagan artists and events.
Articles on different techniques, like how we all manage candles and incense.
If you wish to join the Facebook or Yahoo groups and become part of the movement, check out the “about VIP Blessed Be” page.

Love, Light, and Blessings,
Lady Athena

Since all those other sites use pictures, here are the full moon dates. Will post new moon dates when I have them.

January 9
February 7
March 8
April 6
May 5
June 4
July 3
August 1
August 31
September 29
October 29
November 28
December 28

With the understanding that there are different specific times when the moon is scientificly at it’s fullest, understand that these dates are those in North America. If the timing feels right for a ritual, go for it.

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