Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Day, Another Dollar


Once again, and all-too-familiar: Chops is forced to raise it's virtual pen and warn of reprobates.

Newest entry onto the field of play is the self-styled Lady Raven Avalon, who claims she is the high priestess of a Black Raven Coven, and an experienced witch, mentor and teacher of seminars of more than 40 years. She lists her location as Wiltshire, UK, but no one has ever heard of her in Wiltshire or anywhere else. Hers, and the 'coven' name spontaneously appeared on the internet this past February; all pushing her (self-published) books for sale. Facebook, Gather,, Twitter, Blogger, etc - all accounts made within a day or two of each other, and most never returned to after placing the book ad and links (drive traffic and up search engine ratings = $$).

From what Chops has read of the self-publishings so far, they seem to rehash the most simplistic  Wiccan/Witch info that is freely available everywhere on the web. Raven's sudden appearance with no prior history or presence in the pagan communities or online; the claims and sales spam, is all incredibly reminiscent of Rochelle Moore (aka Zara Alcott) ; and most especially to include her use of Facebook to solicite $$ and naive alcolytes. Said acolytes who of course would never think to ask for real references or proof of her claims before tossing fawning bright blessing$ all over her.

First coming to our attention as a copyright infringer, Raven then solidified Chops attention when she repeatedly lied, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that certain pictures and paintings were of herself, and done by a friend named P. Faust, whom Chops suspects is one of a long line of alts. This was utterly Moore-esque. The following screenshots are used with permission.

 From Ravens Facebook profile:

When this came to light, Raven insisted that her profile pic was a photograph of herself taken by a friend click for larger image:

At the same time that she was typing the lie, the professional artist who painted the picture, Mary McAndrew was contacted and made clear that it was her artwork, copyrighted and watermarked, and she had not given permission or gifted the art to this Raven person (as Raven claimed elsewhere). Raven immediately went on a counterattack largely through alts, trying to raise sympathy for her persecution amongst her group followers, and attacking the people who had caught her out. More Moore-ishness..

On the heels of the above incident came another:

This time she claimed her profile pic (another negative-ized image, above, right) was a photo of her taken by a friend (sound familiar?). Apparently Mz. Raven doesn't seem to realize that simply making a picture a negative image doesn't fool too many people. She is not Olivia Wilde, the actress pictured. Another round of denial and lies ensued. She is still using this Olivia image on a few websites.

Then, again...not four days after the first two. This time she labeled the stolen photo as herself, and added her alts name as the painter:

True to form, the image is someone elses property and copyright: Maggie Sottoro, LLC.

She is still using the above stolen photo as her own at her Gather profile. EDIT: It has been removed from that profile, but Olivia Wildes negative image remains.

Two notes - Raven claims the stolen Maggie Sotero, Ltd image is a painting of her done by P. Faust in 2009; Maggie Sotero didn't produce the dress prior to 2011 for the current line. Also, on her PaganSpace profile, created this March 2011, Raven claims to be 55 years old, and a practicing witch for 50 years. Eh? So Maggie Sotero's wedding dress model is actually the 52 year old Raven Avalon.

large image, click to enlarge

Following these embarrassments, Raven and her alts (and one or two acolytes) called for a group persecution of the Facebook group and administrator of the group that busted her (seen this before?). Note the attempt to make her followers feel they were all being attacked to twist her deception and theft into some form of group persecution: well as to try to use them to get Lesley and the groups that caught her out banned.

Chops is amazed at the gall; but moreso at the insistent lies after proof positive is clear for all to see, including the culprit. Is this the hallmark of a compulsive liar, a substance-abuse problem, or just sheer stupidity? We may never know. In any event, following all of the above, Mz. priestess 'experienced teacher of newbies' closed her Lady Raven Avalon Facebook page, and directed all to her Black Raven Coven page.

In conclusion - although Chops anticipates more to come - we would like to warn newcomers to Paganism to please beware of those claiming titles and experience and who-knows-what, without a shred of evidence to back it up, and especially if not a soul in the real-world pagan community has ever heard of them. You have every right - and in fact, an obligation to yourself - to ask questions, to ask for credentials and references. A good teacher would appreciate your common sense and be happy to prove themselves. A good teacher would not be tossing 'titles' around. Also, ask around; don't rely on just their word, no matter how saccharine love & light they first appear.

These cautions are quadrupled in the online world, where anyone can say anything, create fake alts to back themselves up, and pay to have books published and listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Literally anyone can publish anything today; it isn't read, selected for publishing, or anything else. If you can pay, upload it to the publisher and purchase an IBN number, *poof* - you have a book on Amazon.

Buyer beware; there are costs more important than your money.

As for the many coincidences between 'Raven' and Moore (far more than mentioned here) - well, we shall see, won't we.

Edit update: Well, well; I guess we did see. Click to enlarge.

Edit update:  Just like last year with the Rochelle Moore incidents, the group that brought her thefts and lies to light have since had a number of people descend on their group page, insulting, harrassing and in one case, spewing the most vile and base language. Some, if not most of these people, are obvious fake accounts, deleted soon after posting. A la Moore style, many post and then delete their posts so they cannot be reported. Same Schei├če, different day. 

Edit update/shortcut: For those with attention deficit or lacking the patience to read the posts following this one (and Chops does understand); the above incidents are what started the entire Raven Avalon contingent forming the hate groups, and ultimately, their 'Goblin Hunter' alt putting out the 'hate list' that targeted so many in the pagan community & making the rounds on FB.

Chops thinks this was a very extreme reaction to someone merely being found out for lying about pictures.
Perhaps the real concern is credibility and book profits - and having to reinvent herself all over again.