Friday, December 30, 2005

What Do You Call Yourself?

What do you call yourself (As far as religion is concerned)? Does your religion have a specific name for its followers, or did you create one yourself?

Familiars and Totem Animals: Are They Necessary?

I have a question about familiars and totem animals. Are they that necessary?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I Don't Like That God So I'll Change Him?

Anyway I was sitting here looking at a train wreck of a thread in another forum and I began pondering how some people want to change what some gods do. It isn't all gods, I mean I don't think I've ever run into anybody claiming that Aries was really a smith and cattle god and didn't practice war at all.

Is it gender stereotyping? Is it being uncomfortable with some facets of life? Is it trying to make those particular gods more in line with one's own thoughts of "goodness" and "rightness"?

Now I realize that I don't resonate well with some gods. Most Asian, Hindu, and African gods don't even show up on my radar so to speak. (except once for Kali Ma who wanted the festival of colors from a self proclaimed devotee)

Maybe I don't have the right mind set being chosen instead of doing any choosing on my own. If you choose your gods do youget to change their job description? I correct mis-information as I can, but why does it persist in the first place?

Is it really as simple as not liking a god and wanting them to change to suit the individual?

Why Body Modification?

To those who have piercings and tattoos: why do you get them? Why permanently change/decorate your body? Is it just for the appearance, or is there a deeper reason?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Are False Things Real Too?

Yes, that makes no sense. follow the logic, though ... (and this really only makes sense, I think, for people who are at some level pantheists/panentheists/that sort of thing).

But everything that exists is part of the universe. (of God, of the Divine .. pick your noun and follow it through). This includes us. Now, false things can only exist in the minds of something thinking about it .. it's pretty useless to say that a flitterdigibbet doesn't exist unless someone was thinking about it before. (but now, of course, it applies to the analogy. it just didn't until I said it. lost yet? I think I am ...)

But now that I (And perhaps you) are thinking about this flitterdigibbet, it exists in our minds. and since our minds are part of the universe, doesn't that make a flitterdigibbet part of the universe too? Or did I get hopped up on existentialism instead of tryptophan from my turkey last night?

Visitations from Deities

When a deity comes to you, is it usually in meditation, during rituals, in dreams, or ???

Saturday, December 24, 2005

How Important is the Wording?

When casting a spell involving words, how important is it that the words are absolutely precise?

Is intent more important than wording? Would it be OK to have a more loosely worded spell but a firm idea of what I want? Or would that bite me in the butt?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Celtic Calendars?

I have an odd question for those who practice specifically Celtic Traditions.

Several years ago, a sort of more New-Age than pagan pal of mine was going on to me about the date Dec. 23rd being one of those odd days that is "outside" the normal this case, the so-called Celtic Tree Calendar. Admittedly, I don't know as much about Celtic practice as I probably should---with as much Celtic ancestry as we have, but I can't find anything really impressive that tells me such a calendar ever existed.

So, why am I even asking? Well, being the nutcase I can be, lol, I got curious this morning---it being the 23rd. I woke up early and as I sat up to check the clock, the lobster-claw clasped necklace I was wearing slithered down my chest. I've never had one of those un-hook itself before, it wasn't broken or 'stuck' in open, either. Forty minutes later, I woke up again and my "Kybele" bracelet...which has a intricate "storybook" clasp popped off my wrist.

Being 'stripped' of my jewelry usually is some kind of hint of something significant for me. Sooooo....I am just wondering.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Your Experience with On-Campus Pagan Organizations?

I'm considering starting a pagan organization for my campus, which has none. I was wondering if those of you who in the past have been or presently are involved in a pagan organization would mind answering a few questions about your experiences? Thanks in advance!

Please feel free to give plenty of detail; your answers will be immensely helpful!

What is the purpose of the organization you are/were involved in? Is it for learning and discussion, spellwork, or...?

Is/was your experience in the organization overall positive or negative?

How long have you been/were you involved? How active are/were you? Any officer positions, and if so, what are/were your duties?

Did the organization hold any memorable events during your involvement?

Is the organization an active force on the campus or in the greater community? What do they do to stay involved with people outside the organization?

What sort of problems have cropped up while you were involved? How does/did the organization deal with them?

How has the organization contributed to your spiritual education or growth?

What were some of your most positive experiences in the organization to date?

What were some of the most negative?

And if you happen to be the founder or co-founder of any sort of on-campus pagan organization, how did your organization get started? What did you do to help make it successful?

Thanks again for your answers!

Should The World Be Black And White?

Reading through the posts on this board, I'm always struck by how generally tolerant people here are of different opinions. I think it's safe to say that many people here don't see everything in black and white.

But what if things were black and white?

Imagine a world where there were only two viewpoints: right and wrong. In this world, right and wrong are determined just like counting 2+2. Right and wrong are the same for everyone, everywhere, everytime. People live and breathe knowing that this is right and that is wrong and there is nothing in between.

So, no Cauldron in this world. No debates. No sitting around wondering whether this is the right thing to do because you know what the right thing is; you just have to choose whether or not to do it.

No uncertainty. Ever.

i) Would you want to live in such a world? Why or why not?

ii) Since people in such a world always know the morality of their actions, would they be more likely to do the right thing?

iii) Finally, what impact (if any) would such a world have on our humanity? Is diversity of viewpoints in any way part of what it means to be human, and if so, would we be somehow "less human" in this world?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pagan Heretics?

Does your religion have the concept of heresy? What I mean is, if a member of your religion were to deviate from a standard belief or practice, would there be negative consequences for them?

Just curious because it struck me that I've never seen a "heretic" of a Pagan faith. Everyone seems to hive off into their own traditions instead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Creating deity?

Do you believe it's possible for a person, a spirit/entity, or even a thing to be imbued with deification or godlike powers through mankind's reverence or worship? If I started a movement to worship Grelgor, Patron of Socks Lost in the Dryer, and in a year or two's time I had a pretty big group of people all worshipping Grelgor--praying to him, making offerings, and asking for his aid--would that in essence create a deity called Grelgor? What if I started worshipping a dead ancestor? Does my filial piety make them into a god?

A member on another forum I visit believes that gods are human concepts. In other words, they're only gods because we worship them; if no one did, they'd have no power. What do you think of this point of view?

Suggestions for Yule Celebrations

I am still very new to the whole idea and charm of paganism in general. I could use some suggestions on how to celebrate Yule, keeping in mind that I am very new at this and I don't want to go overboard with my husband and boys.

And 1 question, How does a person make a Yule log?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Is Magic Real?

I've always been told that magic isn't real. Is it true that it's real? Or is it all made up like in the movies?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Message Board Back -- On New Server

The message board is back and working -- again. Bob's old server died completely (probably the motherboard, but Bob hasn't had time to carefully check yet). So we are up on a temporary server until Bob can move us (and associated sites -- Asatru Lore, Ta Hiera, etc.) to a new, permanent server.

Bob said in a post in the message linked below: "Sorry for the ups and downs guys, but when hardware craps out, there ain't much I can do about it." The hosts think Bob has gone well beyond the call of duty here and believe he deserves our thanks -- and a keg of his favorite.

Remember, not everything is back, and probably will not be until well after the move to the new permanent machice given that this is the height of the holiday season (Yule, Christmas, Kwanza, New Years). But the board appears to be back. And that's the main thing as the backup board just remindeed the hosts of why we dislike "drill-down" boards.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Back to the Backup Message Board

The repaired server worked fine for a while, then died again. Bob says he will take another look at it tomorrow. (Hopefully when he is rested and feeling better before he has to drive back into town to look at it.) Until then, we do have a backup board, so please go there, register with the same id you use on the regular board, and put it to use.

Message Board Back

Our Message Board is back -- and has been upgraded to Beehive Forums 0.6.2 in the process.

For those who do not know what happened. Our server's hard drive started have problems yesterday. Fortunately, Bob had been planning to upgrade the drive after Christmas. Unfortunately, it elected to have problems while Bob was home sick.

He dragged himself into work today mainly to fix this server. It took most of the day to fix -- get a fresh backup of the database, install the new hard drice, install a new version of the system (hey -- it's a great chance to upgrade the OS -- the server's already down), restore files and databases, etc.

When Bob finished that, I updated the board to Beehive 0.6.2 -- which should give us search again (although who nows what else is broken), and turned the board on again.

Let's give Bob three cheers for servce above and beyond the call of duty.

Things to note:

* The board was up briefly this morning. Any messages posted then have been lost. Sorry.

* This modded copy of 0.6.2 has not been tested as much as we usually test things or there may be bugs we do not know about. (Of course, there always are no matter how much we test.)

* Java chat is no more, we'll be using the Flash Chat we have been testing.

* CauldronMUX is temporarily offline. It did not back up for some reason. Bob is gong to attempt to get it off the old hard drive. Considering he is under the weather, however, I doubt it will be his first priority in life (and it should not be).

Message Board Afternoon Update

Bob has the server hardware repaired and is restoring data files. Once everything is up and running, Randall will upgrade the board software to Beehive 0.6.2 -- which should give us a working message board search again. When all this is done, the message board will reopen. There's no ETA at the moment, but the backup board is available:

Board Problems Update

Our message board problems are caused by the server's hard drive dying. Our server admin will be dragging himself out of his sick bed this morning and installing a new hard drive and doing some OS upgrades. He was planning on doing this later in the month, but the hard drive decided it wanted to be replaced now. Our board should be back online later in the day when all of this is done.

Until then, feel free to use our back up board at:

Please register with the same name you use on the regular board. Note that this board has ads that we have no control over. Also note that this board will be closed to posting once the main board returns, so you probably don't want to use the backup board for any important discussions.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Message Board Problems

Our message board has been having server problems on and off today. If you cannot access our message board, that's probably why. We hope to have the problems fixed soon. However, if the problems persist too long, we'll move to our never yet used backup board until they are fixed.


Do you believe that souls exist? If so, what exactly are "souls"? What purpose (if any) do they serve? Are they restricted to certain species, or does everything living have a soul? (Or, for that matter, everything regardless of whether it's living or not?)

I'm interested in both official teachings and personal perspectives here.

Ultimate Purpose or Goal in Your Religion?

Does your path have an ultimate purpose or goal? If so, what is it? (eg, conversation of your higher self/ escape the cycle/ conquer the world?)

Do you agree completely with this goal? Where do you differ if you do?

If your religion doesn't come with a goal ready made, do you have a goal of your own that you consider to be related to your spirituality or religion?

If you don't have a goal, how do you feel about this? Is it ok to not have goals, or is it something we should strive to have?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Nature of Gods?

How do you see the gods? As archtypes, separate individuals, human creations, what?

How does that affect how you relate with them?

Is this standard in your religion, or is god-view irrelevant?

Teach the Children?

I'm a Buddhist. Right, we've established that before. I'm finding that I'm leaning heavily toward the Mahayana branch, after reading up on all of them and weighing the "pull" each has for me. That's the one tugging the hardest. Cool.

My daughter, being 8, is at that very curious stage regarding beliefs. I bought a children's book for her called "Zen Shorts," containing three Zen stories within a framework of a larger tale (that of a panda who finds himself in the yard of three children, who each have a turn spending some alone time with him and learning a little about Zen Buddhism to boot). Apparently one of those tales really struck a chord with her.

Without going into huge detail, I'll say this: We had a rather unpleasant experience with a couple of strangers this weekend. I was recounting said experience to our housemate, and DD walked into the room. She looked at me, smiled a little, and said:

"I put her down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?"

I was floored into silence. That's the final sentence in the story about the two monks (one old, one young) and the haughty young woman, who is carried across a stream by the older monk and refuses to acknowledge his help. Hours later the younger one, who's been fuming and steaming about the young woman the whole time, goes off to his elder, asking how he (the elder) could stand being treated that way. The elder answers with that sentence ::points up there::

I've always said to myself (not that anyone else would listen LOL) that I would teach her by example. But I guess a storybook can help, can't it?

(And ja, I explained that I wasn't *really* "carrying her," because I wasn't still upset about the way we had been treated. I was merely recounting the experience to our housemate, who hadn't realized that when I said "we pushed the car out of a ditch," I really MEANT we pushed the car out of a ditch. He thought we just got stuck in a driveway.)

Does anyone else have an example of how their children have learned about their beliefs from them, or from a book, or from--whatever? This one was just so obvious to me, I felt I needed to ask if it happens to anyone else. It must -- right?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What is Magic?

I thought I would toss this out as a discussion topic so that people can share their thoughts on the matter and perhaps some of our less experienced members can learn more about what magic is really all about.

Everyone here has spoken of magic. There have been debates over classifications of it (i.e. the black or white debate). We've spoken about the fact that it isn't the kind of thing that Hollywood likes to make movies about.

But all of these discussions haven't really looked at the heart of the matter. What is magic? How does it work? Where does it come from? Why is it here? does everyone here view magic?

1. Is it a natural force one can shape with will alone?
2. Is it the power of the gods?
3. Or is it simply based upon saying the right words and having the right supplies?

I hope we'll get a good discussion going here. I'll put in my 2 cents a bit later to contribute how I see magic.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Has Paganism Changed How You View The World?

How has the fact that you are Pagan altered the way you view Nature?

This broadly phrased question includes such minor aspects as belief in multiple realities (other planes of reality and creatures that live there, interconnectedness of things etc.)

Could you please include in your answers (if applicable) an anecdote or a reason why you believe as you do?

Learning About Sabbats

Though I am not a Wiccan, I do tend to follow the Wheel of the Year. It is nice to have a coherant cycle of holidays to ground oneself in the seasonal cycles of the Earth. Some of these celebrations have proven more difficult to research than others. While I have a firm grasp on celebrations appropriate to Samhain for example, others such as the Autumnal Equinox are harder to pin down.

So what I'm asking, is where did you learn about Sabbats (assuming you follow this cycle)? Was your primary mode of learning person to person? What insights can you share? What web pages and books can you recommend?

I'm looking forward to expanding my personal understanding of this cycle, and to learning how others celebrate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Stories for Children

I love old stories. Fairytales, myths, legends, etc.

Anyway, now that my younger brother is 6 I've started reading him stories which are a little different than he's used to - specifically, stories about prophets from the Bible and Qur'an.

I don't just plan to limit my stories to those sources, of course. I want to expose him to other stuff I enjoyed at his age, like Greek myths and whatnot. I'm a bit lost as to what to start with, though.

So, any recommendations?

And any sites with a good version of a particular story (my myth books just give skimpy overviews)?

Are Pagan Families That Rare?

My oldest son's wedding is this Sat and it got me to thinking. My son is more or less a laid back Reclaiming type and is marrying a very nice eclectic witch.

My grandson will be the ring bearer, he's only three but his dad (my youngest) is also Pagan in his beliefs. With all my kids it's more of a philosophy of life, their outlook, something they are more than what they do. Although they do not hesitate to ask me for readings or a spell when in need!

Anyway, back on track, I realized there will be three witchy generations present and involved and of course many witches (and non witches, mainly the brides family) there to celebrate with us. Is this that rare?

I noticed in the holiday threads here at TC many people can't admit or disguise their Solstice Rites, or celebrate Christmas so their families are not upset with them. This would never even cross my mind, but then my parents passed over years ago and I am the Old Generation now.

I am curious, first; how many folks do not think twice about telling people they celebrate Yule or Solstice or whatever non Christmas thing?

Second; how many have more or less Pagan families (more than one generation), family celebrations and the like?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bias in Religion

I have been absent for a long while and decided to celebrate my return with a question that has been puzzling me that I have been reading up on at the local (woefully paltry) library.

Do you think that many pagan religions were discounted/ignored/persecuted with the advent of Christianity more from the racial make-up of their believers than from their beliefs?

I have read how many ministers used the Bible to justify slavery and other things we find distasteful. Any dark skinned or other than caucasian person seemed to be viewed as someone to be saved and then treated forever as still *less than equal*, but yet as saved shouldn't they have been considered equal?

Early American missionaries insisted that all Native Americans were Godless Heathens that needed to be saved from themselves. Native children were forcibly removed from their families and packed into Christian boarding schools. This practice continued into the 1970s in the USA and I have heard that it similarly happened in other countries as well (such as Australia with the Aborigines).

Many pagan/native practices 'blend' into the Christian beliefs and practices with these new converts. In my reading I see little evidence that this disturbed the missionaries much.

Why do you think Christianity took such a view of darker-skinned peoples? Was there/Is there some disturbing thread of prejudice in Christianity that bends the believers of that faith?

Not trying to rile folks up, but after dabbling in Asatru and meeting some folkish folks that left a bad taste in my brain, I got heavy into reading up on race and religion. My insatiable curiousity now wants to know if other folks here have observed this tendency in Christianity. I was raised in a Southern Baptist family (we are talking foot-washers here folks) and I never saw any non-white walk into the churches my parents attended. It was just accepted that "they have their churches and we have ours". The first church I ever walked into that had people of all races was a Catholic church.

So what do you think?

Organ Donation and Religion?

Is there anything in your religious beliefs that encourages or discourages organ donation? Or is your decision to donate or not unrelated to religion?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Drawbacks and Difficulties for Pagans

I have another question for the purpose of my paper, particularly the section in which I compare it to Christianity: What could be certain drawbacks and difficulties for people when being Pagan? I could think of some myself but I would like to hear your opinions first.

Webcrafting: Using .Htaccess

A .htaccess file is a file that works on Apache and other NCSA-compliant webservers. The name is actually a bit of a misnomer due to the fact that hyper-text access is only a small function of what it's capabilities are.

The .htaccess file affects the directory it is located in and all directories below it on the directory tree unless there is a .htaccess file contained within a directory, in which case it will take priority for that directory and all directories located below it in tree. Thus if a .htaccess file is contained within the root directory it will affect all directories on the webserver.

Pagan Contributions to the Modern World?

In the thread about the extra-cannonical Christian writings I mentioned how barbaric humanity have been to each other in the past and this got me thinking.

It could be argued that the recent improvements in human rights etc. have arisen through Christians inspired by the "love your neighbour" message of Christianity into fighting uncompromisingly for the rights of others.

Are there Pagan equivalents to this pro-active imperative that I've overlooked or do we owe the improvements of the last few hundred years entirely to Christianity?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Godless Religions?

Is it possible, in your opinion, to have a religion/spirituality without a God/dess/s? I mean a religion without, say, one god, or many gods. Or one without a deity that is a seperate entity from the universe, where no specific name is prayed to.

This does seem a bit confusing, and I apologize if it is. I have no other words for what I'm looking for.

If it is possible, does anyone know of any such religions?

Webcrafting: Understanding Web Statistics

Most website hosting services offer a stats package that you can study. If you're not sure where this is, call up your hosting service and ask them. Statistics are a vital part of tracking your marketing progress. If you don't have access to website statistics get a package that can help you in this area. Do not get a counter that simply shows how many visitors you've had. You'll be missing out on vital information that can help strengthen weaknesses in your site.

A good website hosting service offers traffic logs that provide an invaluable insight into the traffic being referred to a web site from various sources such as search engines, directories and other links.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sweets (The 12 Days of Holiday Cooking)

The next category in the 12 Days of Holiday Cooking is Sweets (cookies, pies, cakes, desserts, etc). Post your ideas/recipes in this thread. I'll be posting another category in a couple of days, but remember this thread will remain open, so if you don't think of something to post before the next category goes up, you can come back over here and post it later.

Also, I'll be gathering a lot of these recipes (I hope) for inclusion on our website's Cauldron Cookbook section. If you don't want your recipe included there, you'll need to say so at the top of your post. I'll credit the recipe to your name when I put it on the site.

Casting Circle

When practicing alone, do you see calling the quarters and casting the circle as seperate steps?

Personally I often create my circle while calling in the elements and do not do these two things seperately. I have been coming across many people as of late who seem very intent on doing these things as seperate steps. For me it is not necessary. I am curious how many people do find it necessary.

On a side note, please don't respond just to tell me not doing it seperately is wrong, I'm sick of that at this point. It's just personal preference. I have shared my preferences, and I would like to hear yours, not debate which is "better".

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Herne and Cernunnos - Same God?

I've been given cause to wonder recently when I've heard Herne and Cernunnos mentioned as if the names are interchangeable because to me they're not really.

If anyone were to ask me who my main patron God is I'd say Herne. Now I know that he's a bit of a debatable deity as the first mention of him is in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor but my experience of him is as an extremely primal God, possibly even pre-Homo sapiens.

Cernunnos isn't so hard to track down as he was known by the Romans and seems to have been the horned fertility/forest God of the continental European Celts, with possible Welsh involvement. However, he doesn't seem to quite fit my Horned God; close but not quite there. I think it's the Latin influence, perhaps Cernunnos has more of Pan about him but Herne has more than a touch of Odin.

So, are there any other Herne worshipers out there who feel this distinction?

Funniest Holiday Experience

Well tis the season, and I was wondering what everyone's funniest experience for this time of the year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Oak King, the Holly King and the Unicorn

I'm doing a research project about the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries and happened to pick up the book The Oak King, the Holly King, and the Unicorn, which is about the Hunting of the Unicorn tapestries. I thought it might apply. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had read it and what they thought of it. Some of it seems okay, and some of it is setting off my BS detectors. (Including some mentions of the Triple Goddess. And this is supposed to be a scholarly book about art history.)

Also, when did the Oak King and Holly King idea appear? If I remember correctly, it was more recent than the tapestries (about 1500).

I'm Throwing Gender Out Of My Dualities

For probably years I've had a huge problem with almost every magical system I've bumped into. It's a gender problem. In almost every magical book I've read, with the exception on one of Cunningham's books on herbs (he replaces "Male and Female" with "Hot and Cold"). The trait of being female is always associated with the moon, and list of traits reads like this:
(This is from Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick)


Being male is associated with the sun:

This has always upset and then puzzled me in equal measure. The upset comes from having a Christian upbringing and being brow-beaten with the idea that women are basically passive. Finding what appears to be the same idea in every religion I have seen was upsetting.

Why upsetting? Because it's puzzling to me. The puzzlement is that one of the reasons I left Christianity (other than it not making sense to me), was that associating a physical sex with personality traits never made sense to me at all--it just wasn't realistic when I looked at myself and my friends.

Whenever I would voice this question in Christianity, I would get the "read your bible" answer.

When I started asking about the divine polarity in Wicca I'd get something like this:
"Yes, but the Lord and the Lady are part of the same energy. We each have pieces of the God and Goddess within us"
I feel this skips neatly around the question--why is the sun associated with being male in the first place? Why is the moon female?

But as I was reading this rather fluffy exercise in a Wicca: A Year and a Day book it struck me that if I just remove the Male and Female genders from the list of traits for the moon and sun--it starts making a lot more sense!
The sun *is* fiery, full of light, associated with being active. The moon is in my mind as being dark, dreaming, and cool. Gender has nothing to do with it!

Has anyone had an experience like this?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Influences of New Age and Feminism on Pagan Religions?

I have some questions I would like to ask you. This time it regards the influences two other movements can have on Pagan religions and vice versa. I know that there are others but for the purpose of this discussion and my subsequent analysis/usage of it in my paper I will limit myself to feminism and New Age.

I will begin with the latter: From what I have read on the Net, Pagan religions have long been put down by some academics in the field of New Religious Movements as one branch of New Age. That attitude is changing now and the studies of Paganism that I have read differentiate the two and usually note that Pagans can be highly critical of New Age practices.

While I am personally critical of New Age when it comes to a certain degree of revisionism/blatant appropriation I am still wondering if there is or could be a certain degree of overlap happening between Pagan religions (especially Eclectic traditions) and New Age? And I don't mean extremists (i.e fluffy people or weirdos) necessarily!

The second movement I want to examine is feminism. Here I am already aware of some influences and outgrowths (Dianic Wicca, some parts of Reclaiming, interest (or even belief) in the works of feminist scholars etc).

But I am still curious about the possible influx it might have had on "Tradional" Wiccans. Have practices/deity views been transformed here as well or have you largely remained untouched?

Recon views, especially Greek Recons, are also welcome to chime in as is every member of this board though not specifically addressed here.

Karma? Hell? Punishment?

Christianity includes punishment by God or eternity in Hell if you screw up, and from what I've read of karma, it too promises payback. My knowledge of world religions is minimal, so I don't know if other systems have similar ideas. But, is it necessary to use fear? What about positive reinforcement? Is there so little evidence of reward that only fear seems most effective? Are there any religions you know of that don't use fear in some form?

How Much Knowledge Needed to Worship?

In another thread, Sine said, "Non-initiated so-called "wiccans" aren't worshipping the Gods of the Wicca..."

This made wonder just how much knowledge of a particular God is required to actually worship them. For example, Athena was often known in ancient Athens as simple "the Goddess" as she was the patron deity of the city. If someone who knew very little about the Greek Gods (not even their names) worshipped "The Goddess of Athens," I have no doubt but that Athena would know she was the object of worship. She might not find the form of worship selected in ignorance very pleasing, but the person would still be directing their worship to Athena.

So it seems to me that of someone directs their worship to "the Goddess of the Wica," to the "God of the Muslims," or whoever, these Gods would also know they are the object of worship. If they don't, I personally think they are too weak to be considered real deities.

Of course, as I said, the object of this worship might not be pleased if the proper forms of worship are not observed. Or is this more of a mistaken human concern (that is, are the Gods not as picky as we humans think they are)? Hence the question, just how much knowledge does one have to have before one can worship a diety at all? Is more required to worship a diety effectively? How do we know?

Friday, November 25, 2005

What Colors Unverified Personal Gnosis?

A topic on an e-list got me to thinking over the last couple days. The discussion brought up the point that building a practice based totally on UPG can be sort of 'adrift' and that using some good references (say on Greek religion for Greek recons) helps ground what you do in a historical reality. And I absolutely see the purpose in that, even though I am not a reconstructionist by any strict sense of the word.

But then my mind started doing this snarly little chicken vs egg argument with itself. I got to thinking about my own dependence on UPG....both in my pagan life, and prior to that in that I had mystical experiences as a Christian. Since a Christian friend had asked me, as I was leaving that behind, how I could do that in light of those moments of grace, my answer plays into this question. I told her that when I went back over my experience, yes, it had an ineffable quality and a wonder and delight, awe and shock---what it did NOT have was a pronounced cut in stone Christian content. I had interpreted it that way because that was my expectation, you see.

Stripped to the essentials, my experiences back then were nonsectarian to say the least. So, thus my question here. Many of us read a lot, and I can't help but wonder if those sources we read do COLOR the UPG we have? Obviously, it would be hard to say those experiences are not shaped somewhat by our interpretation and how much of that interpretation is based upon what we read? I gave a JCI ident to my first experience because at that time...over 25 years ago, that was almost my only data available.

Of course, having that the identity issue is much more problematical for me. I scarcely take anything at 'face' value unless it is so inargueable as to knock me on my tail! This is so not making my life easier! Anyone else run into this, or am I the only one must missing some major point?

What Are You Thankful For?

This week is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

The staff of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum wishes all our US members celebrating Thanksgiving today a very happy Thanksgiving. Don't eat too much now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Only Sources from Co-Religionists?

I saw a post on another board about only accepting the scholarship of co-religionists as acceptable sources for their religion.

I was wondering what everyone thinks about this.

Tacky Gifts For Cauldron Members

Yes, it's time for the Christmas season ....

So what would you give to who on TC that is horribly wrong? Money is no object here. Links are appreciated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Spells With Unexpected Results

Have you (or someone you know of) ever cast a spell that had completely unexpected results? For example, this could be that your desire was met in an unexpected way, or a methodology glitch caused a totally goofy happening, or something else.

Personal Traits Hindering Spiritual Growth?

What are some personal traits that you think hinder your spiritual growth? How does your faith help you deal with those traits?

For example, I have serious anger issues. When I am angry, it tends to bring out a lot of my other nasty traits, like being sullen and unreasonably stubborn. It also tends to block my more generous impulses. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be very good at using spiritual tools to get me back to normal. Do you folks have any better success? What sorts of exercises, rituals, prayers, etc. do you use to work on those issues?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Degree Systems

Since this is currently in the forefront of my mind (I very happily received my second degree in the tradition I work in last night.), I thought it might make an interesting thread.

What do you guys think about degree systems? Do you have questions about why they're used or meaningful to some people? Do you wonder why anyone bothers? Feel free to use this thread to ask questions - a couple of other people who work in them have offered to help answer, too.

Bear in mind that many people working in multi-degree systems will have stuff they've agreed not to share about some specifics. But it's our jobs, in those cases, to not say the stuff we've agreed not to share, not yours to avoid asking about it. Just be aware there may be a bit of "Sorry, can't go into details about that..." going on in answer to some kinds of questions.

Pre-Golden Dawn Books

What pre-Golden Dawn books do you recommend I read?

I was thinking of reading: Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation by Brian P. Copenhaver What I am trying to do is figure out what came from historical sources versus what was invented.

Any other suggestions?

Judging on Looks

There have been a number of threads lately, some quite heated, about the wrong headedness of judging someone on looks. I've been giving some thought to this so I wonder if people could offer some opinions.

First, some of my thoughts ( go into coma now ).

You see a woman walking towards you. She is wearing a plumed hat, a garish blouse with padded shoulders, toreodor pants 'Jelly' shoes and Barbara Cartland makeup. Do you think:

1) Whoa! call the fashion police!
2) Looks like they left the door open at the institution again
3) Damn! The choice of clothes being offered at the discount stores is heinous!
4) What a charming, individualist person! I admire her bravery for wearing such an interesting collection of clothes and painting her face that way. I think I'll introduce myself and try to get to know her.

You are a woman and you are walking downtown at night. You see a VERY scruffy guy coming right towards you. It's dark and there is no one else on the street. Do you think:

1) Poor bugger , probably homeless and maybe I can help.
2) Oh shite! is this trouble coming my way?
3) What an interesting eccentric gentleman, I bet he has some interesting stories!

Addition to above scenario - if you answered number 2, would you have the same reaction if you saw a cop or a conservatively dressed woman walking towards you?

Also, why SHOULDN'T people judge on appearances? Do people think that others's will somehow read their mind and just know that inspite of the fact one is dressed in a deliberably say, fear provoking way ( vampire wannabe's etc.) that other's should instantly recognize the goodness of the person's heart or intentions?

Do you think it might be a bit ego-centric to take affront because people DO judge by appearances? Why should we assume that somehow people will KNOW we are interesting, different, individualistic and making a statement - a bid for personal freedom that is always admirable? Is it?

We are hard-wired to avoid danger.Some of the ways we assess this is appearance , demeanor and situational variables. It might be worthwhile to stop the scary looking person on the street at night and engage in a conversation about shared interests or what they are trying to project, or, it might be worth it to get the hell out of there.

It seems to me (JUST MY OPINION) that people want it both ways. They want to judge and be not judged. And you know, judging right can save your life. Judging wrong -same. So people will have to assess YOU, yes?

Also, I mentioned in my line of biz. , looks are very important. I have to deal with all age groups. I try to be sensitive to the fact that geratric people from a different generation might react badly because they do not understand what's 'trendy'. I need to be sensitive to this. Or, what if some dude that saw 'Once was a Warrior" and got the full black face tatoo decided to go into pediatrics(in another culture from NZ). How do you think a toddler who is already in a fearful state might react to that?

Strangly, I try not to judge by appearances. That also comes with 'my' territory. I once endured a long train ride with a fellow who smelled like a goat and looked like something that got extruded from a sheet-metal factory- everyone else backed away from him. In reality, he was a very nice young man from a small town who just wanted to 'make a statement' (though I think a bath might have been included in it).

So tell me people, should people NEVER make judgements, SOMETIMES make judgements, ALWAYS make judgements and when and where? For instance, do you think you should be considered for every job no matter how you present yourself? etc.

Also, can you HONESTLY say you never judge another person on their looks? For instance, you do assume that the man in the buisness suit or the woman in the 'banker's bow' blouse, may be a deeply spiritual person at home, or, a right hell raiser or just assume their personality matches their work clothes ? And if someone makes a judgement on you based on your 'interesting ' look, (should you have one), do you assume that the person who may not like it is a close-minded jerk, or alternately,that their experiences and tastes may be 'right' , as well?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What Makes a Religion Real?

When I talk to those not very familiar with non-mainstream religions, I sometimes am told that these religions aren't "real" because they don't have church buildings or because they don't have multi-million dollar charities organized in their name or because they don't have a holy book or because they don't have enough believers, etc.

Do you think any such things are necessary for a religion to be "real"? Regardless of your answer to the previous question, do you think such things are needed for the general public to see a religion as real? What are the requirements for a "real religion"?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Women's Mysteries - Seasonal?

Looking at the calendar of an entire year, when would you schedule a women's retreat? And why?

I've heard some folks, usually men, argue that Women's Mysteries or a Women's Weekend should only be taught/held in certain seasons. Good grief! We are mysterious year-round! Besides, I usually disagree with those who said there is only one way things can work.

However, I'm curious as to your opinions and reasons.

And what about Men's Mysteries and Men's Weekends? When and why?

On the Nature of the Gods

"While there are many questions in philosophy which have not as yet been by any means satisfactorily cleared up, there is in particular, as you, Brutus, are well aware, much difficulty and much obscurity attaching to the inquiry with reference to the nature of the gods, an inquiry which is ennobling in the recognition which it affords of the nature of the soul..."
-- Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods

Here is a small question:
How do you view the Gods?

Since before the time of good Cicero to the present day mankind, and womankind, have sought to understand the nature of the gods.... Who are they? Where do they come from? Do they have bodies and lives like you and I? Did we decide what they looked like or did they take a form familiar to our self to aid in communication? Where to they live?
You get the idea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Belief - Inside Out or Outside In?

I was wondering something. I am an 'animist' (for lack of a better word, there isn't one for the way I 'experience' these things). But. I do not believe in fairys (especially the new age kind), angels, elves, brownies, gnomes etc.

Some people say " If you believe, THEN you will see them". Some people say "when you see them, THEN you'll believe"

So, do you think either of the above statements are true?

Oh, let me say that I am open minded as to the existance of, well, practically anything that may not have been 'proved' but may indeed exist.

But I also wonder if people see things because they want to, or say they see these things because they want to or want others to believe it is so. I believed when I was a child. I even left out things for them. But...innocent and believing as I was, they didn't come. Perhaps I'm not their 'type'?.

Tattoos and Religion

I like tattoos. I have several, including one that is quite large. They are all created using a particular system of iconography, and have what could be considered a religious (Or philosophical at minimum) meaning to me.

I was thinking about this the other day, and it occured to me that in some faiths this would be considered sacreligious. I believe that if one is tattoed (other than concentration camp numbers) one cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetary. In still other systems tattoos are powerful symbols of protection and devotion.

So my question is this: How do tattoos fit into your belief system? Is this something you have already incorporated, something you would never do, or maybe even something you have never thought about?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Upcoming: 12 Days of Holiday Cooking

Since we?ve got a lot of people who celebrate the holiday season with food, I thought having a 12 Days of Holiday Cooking might be a nice change. This will start on Monday, November 28 and run for a few weeks. I?ll bump this post the week before we start.

I have 12 categories, and I?ll post a category every two days and our members can post in with recipes and ideas for their favorites for that food category. If there isn?t a category planned for something, feel free to post it in the miscellaneous category on the last day. If you miss posting in one of the categories, feel free to hop back into it.

The categories will be:

Drinks (no real limit on what this is)
Sweets (cookies, pies, cakes, desserts)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Letting Go?

I ran a small tarot spread earlier and a particular sentence struck a chord in me... "The process (working on change) will purge the toxic waste of unfinished business that disables you and disturbs your peace of mind."

Maybe it's the idea of 'purging toxic waste', but it made good sense to me. There's enough clutter rolling around in my mind, alot of it useless, some of it poisonous, all of it blocking me from moving forward...I like to wallow in my comfort zone, even if it does hurt me.

So, my question is: If you were to purge yourself of some of your own toxic waste, what would you start with? If you've had past success doing this, how did you achieve positive results?

Holiday Plans?

A little different from the thread on how you cope with Christmas - what are your plans for the holidays? Which ones are you celebrating, and with whom? What are you cooking? How are you decorating? Do you have recipes/ideas/traditions to share with the rest of us?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Favorite Funky Divination?

What is your favorite *funky* divination? I'm not talking about the boring old Rider-Waite tarot, but the funky stuff. I think my current favorite is gastromancy: predicting the future based on the noises made by your stomach!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Celebrating Christmas?

Just wondering about what others do for Christmas. Especially those with children. Do you buy presents?? I will but nothing more on 25th December.

Honoring the Pantheon?

I think I've probably asked this (or something similar) before, because this isn't the first time I've wondered about it, but I can't even remember if it was on Delphi or here, so I thought I'd ask again.

Do you honor any deities who you don't specifically have a close relationship with? If so, how?

I'm particularly interested in what (if anything) those who have the sort of relationship with one or more deities which is sometimes referred to as "patron" do to acknowledge other deities in the same pantheon. And within that subcategory I'm specifically interested in the Greek pantheon, because this is something I've kind of wanted to start doing, but I'm not sure what to do.

(And yes, I know the obvious answer is: Ask Them what they would like you to do. I feel a little funny approaching deities I don't really have a relationship with like that, though, so I thought I'd start here.)

Teachers and Expectations?

Throwing this out as a topic because I'm curious...

First, some background. We've (my group) decided I'm going to be primary teacher for our Dedicant classes this year for a variety of reasons.

Thus giving our HPS and HP a chance to become less burned out, to have time to focus on other aspects of the group, etc. They'll be around for some classes, around before or after a bunch of the time, guest teach periodically (the stuff they're really much better at, f'instance.)

One of the things we've talked about is that this may not be a popular decision, because I'm not HPS, and people tend to want HPS time. (Anyone who's going to be in our upcoming Dedicant class has already had almost all of their class time from me, so it's not that they can't deal with me. It's more that I'm not group's HPS.)

We have a standard curriculum with excellent notes, and I've got a pretty good idea what I need help or additional feedback with, and will be asking for it.

So, I thought I'd throw this out here:

1) Is this (who is primary teacher) something you'd care about? Which bits in particular? What influences your decision? What would make it easier? If you were having this kind of thing presented to you, is there anything you'd want to know/be reassured of?

2) What do you look for in teaching in the first place. (Whether or not you're interested in Pagan formal teaching settings... I'm talking any kind of teaching here - what makes classes interesting or enjoyable or productive for you?)

3) One other concern is that one of our potential Dedicants tends to .. erm. Listen to me when she's going that way anyway, and otherwise she's been known to do the appeal-to-authority thing.

I've obviously got some ideas about handling this, but I welcome suggestions/stories/etc. (in this case, my HPS and HP are explicitly saying "Jenett is primary teacher: if you have class issues and have not already discussed them with her, we will be sending you right back to do that.")

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looking For Different Books

I am aiming this post primarily at older members, but everyone feel free to answer. I have read many books on various religions. I find myself most interested in Witchcraft, chaos magic, and Santeria. I have practiced these in various ways. What I am looking for now is some new perspectives. I want books that give you an interesting groundwork without saying do A B and C exactly how we tell you. I enjoy things such as Spiral Dance (Starhawk), Urban Voodoo (Christopher Hyatt, Jason Black), or Sacred Ceremony (Steven Farmer Ph.D).

The reason I say I am aiming this post at older members is because I am looking for suggestions of things I may never have heard of. I'm assuming the longer you have been at this the more suggestions you will be able to make. Again, I'm looking for suggestions of anything you consider helpful and somewhat freeform, especially things someone my age (22) may never have heard of.

Eclectic paths?

For those of you who use the word 'eclectic' to describe your chosen path, I was wondering if any of you have the same problem I do.

It seems that one part of my path will pull at me, quite strongly, for a good month or so, burning a need into my head to find as much new information as I possibly can, to try and incorporate new ideas/ways into my life, and to either renew my relationship with a certain deity, or to discover a new one.

After all this, my burning need slowly fades away and then another aspect of my path flares up and I'm off and running again down a different road.

I don't mind it, too much, but when I become engulfed with one area, I feel a little bad about the parts that are left on the backburner. So far I haven't been sent any complaints by my chosen deities, that I'm aware of...though maybe that's why I can't lose those pesky 10 pounds! (lol)

Have you found a seamless way to pull it all together? Are you able to work with all the different aspects of your path, or do you concentrate on one area at a time?

Deity X Would Never Do That!

The thread topic refers to the reaction I'm sure everyone has had at least once when hearing another religious person talk about their religion. What do you say and/or do when you have this reaction? What would you like to say and/or do?

A) If you are a member of the claimant's religion and also worship Deity X?
B) If you are a member of the claimant's religion but do not worship Diety X?
C) If you are not a member of the claimant's religion but do worship Deity X?
D) If you aren't a member of the claimant's religion and don't worship Deity X?

Do your reactions depend on how far outside (or even against) Deity X's purview the claim is? (Say, Claimant A says Phil, the God of Reading, told him/her to burn books; or Claimant A says Phil told him/her to take a pottery class). Do your reactions depend on how well you know the claimant? Do your reactions depend on how much you know about Deity X? On a related note, what are you reactions when the claimant ignores part of Deity X's purview? (Say, Claimant A worships Phil, but doesn't read anything at all).

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I happened to read the "Historical Deities of Construction and Technology" thread, when something piqued my curiosity. Darkhawk mentioned Imhotep, a deified engineer.

Now that I think about it, there are other instances I've come across where people have been deified - like Confucius, for example.

How on earth does that work? Is it even possible in the first place? Are they the same as 'regular' deities, or are they less powerful? Can they answer prayers, for example? And has anyone tried deification in this day and age?

Last Spell You Cast?

Just for fun, what was the last spell you cast? I'm not much of a magic sort of gal, but I think the last spell I cast was a home cleansing.

Value of Humility?

I know that Christianity places a fairly high value on humility, and I was wondering what other faiths have to say on the topic. Does your faith encourage humility? What value do you personally put on humility?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Historic Deities of Construction and Technology?

After poking at a book on urban magic, I realized that I couldn't think of any historical deities of construction, technology, or cities.

I'm sure there must be some. Could anyone clue me in?

Honoring Ancestors?

Over the course of time many members have mentioned honoring their ancestors as part of their religious activities, whether is is done on a yearly basis or on a much more frequent cycle.

My question is in what manner or way do you honor your ancestors?

Incorporating Religion in Every Day Life

In what way can you incorporate your faith in every day life? I would very much love to perform magick every evening and grow my own herbs and vegetables. But lack of time is the problem. I have a four month old and once the chores are done I am lucky to be in bed by 12. How do you do it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Magic or Magick?

Which spelling to you use? Why?

The Afterlife: Real Or Imagined?

It's a question we all have pondered: When it's over, is it really over? Is there life, after death? And if there is, just what is it like?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Does Faith Make you "Better"?

Do you think that following your faith has made you a better person? If so, what is an example of that?

The Term "Patron"

Over the years, I've seen the word "Patron" (or "Matron" if you'd rather) used in some vastly different ways depending on the religion of the person talking.

In the case of Greek Recons, we're seeing something of a backlash on the usage of the term as it's so frequently used in neo-Wiccan or Eclectic Pagan circles.

How do you define "patron" or do you choose to use another word? How do you determine whether or not your relationship with a deity should be termed a patron relationship? Does the deity choose the person or the other way around?

And, if you're from a Reconstructionist religion, does this term mean something different to you and, if so, what?

Debating Religion?

We talk quite a bit about religion on this board, and sometimes things get heated. Obviously, the Cauldron has firmly drawn the line between what's acceptable and what's not... but that doesn't mean we all don't have our own lines.

i) When debating about someone else's religion, what do you feel is or is not up for debate? Do you feel that you're free to talk critically about anything in that faith, or do you limit yourself? For example, you might think it's OK to debate the rules laid down in someone else's scripture. But you might not think it's OK at all to debate that scripture's authenticity.

ii) When people are debating your religion, what do you feel is or is not up for debate? And if they cross that line, how do you react? If you are atheist, is your position up for debate?

iii) Does your answer change if the other person you're debating with shares your religion?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Review: Music, Witchcraft and the Paranormal

This book is composed of six essays presented as part of two doctoral theses. If that sounds like scholarly work, you are right. If you think that makes for dry reading, you might want to hold that judgment in abeyance for a bit. There are, as to be expected, a large number of citations of previous works in the field and it is not, in any way, shape or form compelling reading. Various experiments are recounted with, to my surprise, results not significantly varying from what random chance would have predicted (at least in the overview). Ideas are presented for further experiments which may help to further refine the results.

Review: Rede of the Wiccae

I could claim that I have waited for this book to be written, and that would be true in general. Thirty years ago, as I began my studies of Alexandrian Craft, I had seen Lady Gwen's original article in Green Egg (I was a member of a CAW Nest in Chicago, and my nest-mate, fellow student, and friend John P. gifted me with a batch of back issues of the Egg and I carried on from there). At the time the "grandmother story" was starting to become a cliche and, since most such claims could not be verified they were taken with a grain (or more) of salt.

Review: Magical Creatures

The late Elizabeth Pepper (editor with John Wilcox of The Witches' Almanac for many years) has produced a bestiary composed of three classes of animals - tame, wild, and "fabulous." The entries have been drawn from articles which have appeared in the Almanac over the year (including this year's edition).

Review: 2005 Witches' Almanac

The Witches' Almanac has been a source of inspiration and knowledge for a long time. Although there was a hiatus of several years, I have copies dating back almost thirty years. This year's edition is much the same as the ones I have from the early days in that it contains planting information, pithy (if sometimes obscure) comments on the calendar pages, and lots of information scattered throughout. There are news items (somewhat dated, it is true, but that is not unusual in an annual publication), book reviews, and an entire section devoted to each of the astrological signs.

Review: Sign of the Crescent

Debbie Federici is rapidly becoming one of my favorite fiction authors. She writes for middle to older teen markets, and she has a real feel for teen angst. Her characters feel real, no matter how unreal a situation they find themselves in. Her heroes are not invincible. Nor are they always obedient. Her villains are frequently megalomaniacs, but that is a common short-coming of literary baddies.

Review: ShadowQueen

The world of L.O.S.T. (Live Oak Springs Township) straddles the mundane and magickal worlds. To all outer appearances it is a small town in the desert. It is also a contact point to many villages disconnected from the normal time/space line and linked by the Path. Jasmina (Jazz) Corey was Queen of the Witches before she died at the end of L.O.S.T. and Brenden (Bren) had been thrust into the role of King of the Witches (okay, it isn't in touch with reality, but it isn't supposed to be. It's entertainment, not a teaching book).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is The Supernatural Going Mainstream?

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I am a fan of the shows Medium and Supernatural. I've noticed with the new fall line up some additional shows that involve the supernatural in some way (Ghost Whisperer, Psychic Witness, Dead Tenants, Haunted House).

Firstly, what do you think of these shows? Interesting or garbage? Do you see research on the part of the producers, or are they just pulling ideas out of their butts and making it work for TV?

Secondly, do you think this is a trend that is going to mainstream supernatural phenomenon, bringing it forward, and leading to a resurgence in popularizing the occult? Does this bode well for us Pagans, and followers of JCI that have some sort of occult leanings?

Wedding Rings and Matriarchy?

Quote: "Did you know that the wedding band was one of the first devices used to destroy ancient matriarchy and replace it with the male-dominated society that we know today?"

Someone posted the above statement to an email list I belong to. The history major and perpetual college student in me went "wha??".

I'm planning on asking the person what her sources are on that, but I'd like to hear some opinons from the very vocal Cauldron members as to what they think of the above statement.

Freemasons and Wicca

I have a question about the connection to Freemasonry and Wicca. I was at church the other day and the guest speaker used to be a Neo-pagan, so he claimed. And he said that Wicca stemed out of Masonic rituals or Masons. I've looked into this and I found little to nothing bridging these two subjects together, I always thought that wicca primarily came out of Ireland way before the Pope in the 1300's banished and slaughtered the Templars from Europe. So if you could help me out... that would be great.

Our speaker didn't give any other examples of why or what branches these two together. If Freemasonry is a touchy subject I understand and I do not want to intrude. He linked the trinity symbol to wicca which what I understand is that the trinity symbol was just a celtic symbol meaning the holy trinity. And I've seen this symbol outside of masonic lodges and several Boston churches.

Nevertheless, I'm just seeking some answers the occult has always interested me, not in the way of taking on a different religion myself, but just to learn. I've read the Koran, The Bible, even The Satanic Bible, and heard several guest speakers for wicca during my anthropology classes and several others for religious studies classes. And this struck me as new.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Home Made Tarot Cards

I've been working on my own deck for a few months now, painstakingly selecting images, tweaking them on adobe then printing them off and piecing them together on cue cards. They look awesome.

They're also incredibly accurate. During one reading I drew the devil and the tower and in context it ment that there was going to be a problem with material posessions. Not more then half an hour later a shelf with precious heirlooms collapsed. Just recently during a general reading the layout happened to hint at a change over in my life and my position of authority... and two weeks later I was promoted at my job.

I've read how your own energy when making a tarot deck factors greatly into their usefulness, but this deck goes beyond what I've ever experienced.

Has anyone else tried making their own Tarot deck?

Rune and Ogham Divination

I'm curious what everyone thinks about Rune divination and Ogham divination specifically.

As far as Ogham divination goes, I've heard very conflicting reports, with most scholarly sources saying it was simply the written language of Ireland used to mark somewhat important events/places and nothing more. And, of course, there are the more mystical sources, such as Caitlin Matthews' kit, Celtic Wisdom Sticks: An Ogam Oracle, which say, "Well, yeah it was the written language, but it also had a 'secret' meaning very useful in our divination." Maybe it's just the writer in me, but there's something that's very appealing about that whole line of thinking. I love to think that words have more power than simple transferrance of language. I'm currently reading Caitlin Matthews' book and trying my hand at this particular brand of divination, but I'm the kind of person who always seeks validation before fully committing.

I don't know very much about runes yet, as I'm still researching, but I've heard people talk about casting the runes many times. Many more times than I've heard of consulting the Ogham. That doesn't mean anything, I know, but it does seem to lend more credence to rune-casting. Does anyone have any good resources to recommend on reading the runes? If I can find a good enough resource, I'm considering making my own rune-stones instead of buying a kit, just as, if I find a sense of validation in the Ogham-reading, I'd like to make my own Ogham sticks.

Any help is appreciated, as well as other divinatory methods that you find to be particularly useful. I'm always looking for more knowledge.

What IS a Religion?

If one person constructs an elaborate/unique constellation of ideas with 'spiritual' overtones, it is their imaginary world, delusion or maybe even some 'truth' (at least to them, revealed to them or no).

If a few more people agree, it becomes a 'belief system'.

If a great many people believe the same thing, (or, something similar), it becomes a 'religion'

So, eliminate the cultural component and tell me if you will (and you're bored or something) - What actually IS a religion? What does that concept mean to you?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Save Halloween!

No, I'm not talking about Samhain. They may happen to fall on the same date, but I view them as seperate holidays. Samhain is a more mature holiday of reverence and retrospection. Halloween though is mostly a kid's holiday that's all about breaking their traditional rules for one day, dressing up like something you think is totally sweet (I was ussually either a vampire or ninja) and heading out for an almost divine conquest in search of the holy grail of childhood- vast, unspeakable ammounts of candy.

In other words, Halloween rocked.

But it feels like it's dying. Every year I see less and less kids out there. Are parents too scared to let their children wander their own neighborhood? I think so, since lame-ass "trick-or-treats" held at malls 2 days before Halloween at 3pm in the afternoon (Can it get any lamer!?) have become increasingly popular. Even if the kid gets the same ammount of candy doing that, it's still nothing near the original. Trick-or-Treating isn't about candy. It's about conquest. A conquest for candy, but still a conquest nonetheless. Routes are carefully mapped to include the known "hot-spots" while the houses that hand out crap like toothbrushes are skipped over to maximize candy potential, all in almost impossible hopes of amassing an entire black trash bag full of candy (We all heard someone was able to do it last year), which we all knew was the standard for being a Halloween -legend-. Just throw a bunch of candy at a kid and it just isn't the same.

Anyways, I degress. Halloween rocked and paranoid parents are killing it! Why are we so afraid to go out into our community? Do we really think that everyone we live next to are a bunch of sadistic child-hating freaks? I think it all comes from the death of the neighborhood. People no longer seem to take an active role in their neighboorhood, no longer interact much with the people they live just down the street from. Instead we've become increasingly isolated from those literally closest to us, and as such, distrustful. And Halloween is a great way to combat that. Kids dressing up and going around the neighborhood gives all of us a chance to see that the person down the street is just a normal, friendly person. But we're so afraid of that interaction with our neighbors that we instead deprive our children of one of our fondest childhood memories and drag them to a mall to trick-or-treat in the middle of the afternoon?

Well I'm not going to stand for it. We need to bring back Halloween! Carve those pumpkins! Put up those cheesy Halloween decorations from Wal-Mart. And dish out tons of candy for those kids (Especially if they say thank you. Parent's like it when you help teach their kids basic manners). This holiday kicks too much ass to just fade away and be forgotten.

What do you think?

Are Technology and Paganism Mutually Exclusive?

I'm not what most would consider your standard Pagan. I spend 6 months of the year hundreds of feet underwater in a cold steel black tube where there is no sun or moon, the days are 18 hours long, and I only have artificial light powered from a nuclear reactor. I am an electronics technician on a nuclear powered submarine and for most, the job is about as far away from living a natural life as you can possibly get. Still, I enjoy my job and still consider myself as much of a Pagan as any other person out there. So here's my question to you. Do you think you need to live a "natural lifestyle" to be really Pagan?

Do you need to reject technology to appreciate nature? Do you need to spend time running through the woods to feel as one with the universe? Is it a tenet of Paganism (specifically Wicca since that's what I label myself) to live a life unburdened by the synthetic and manmade? The bulk of what I read here would make it seem so. But as one whose lived the life completely isolated from nature (aside from the whale-songs, dolphin squeals and, more than anything, the incessent clacking of shrimp that can be heard from sonar) I would say no. The bond with nature and the universe is an internal, spiritual thing that cannot be taken from us no matter where we are. We are, after all, creatures of nature, and that can never be changed.

I believe in environmentalism as much as any of you, and of taking care not to damage the earth we live on. But I do not accept the ideal that technology is somehow inherently evil. I do not use tea-oil shampoo or eat organic vegetables. Am I wrong to do so? Am I wrong in my belief that technology and human progress can coexist peacefully with Paganism and spirituality?

What do you think?

Pagans in Prison

An article on Witchvox (at has led to some pretty hated commentary on one of my local boards. Now I'm interested in what you guys think of the rights of Pagans in prison. Having done prison outreach in a few states I know how widely it can vary state to state and even city to city.

What should be provided, access granted. in terms of books, materials, foods whatever. Should Pagans be required to do work detail on holy days. Currently Muslims in Fed prisons get off on Fridays. Jewish and Muslim diets are alowed and sometimes alternate meals are prepared for them.

I can't see an athame ever being alowed, but what about besoms, goblets, drinking horns?

What does your religion say about lawbreakers? Do you see a difference between secular laws and "God's Law". What is your religion's stance on punishment or rehabilitation. Is rehabilitation possible for all criminals?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Info Needed on Pagan Funerals

I'm a curious student who needs all the information you can give me. I am a student at a mortuary college and for my research paper this year, I chose the subject of funerals and Paganism. I got "The Pagan Book of Living and Dying" (Starhawk, 1997) to aid me in my research, but it doesn't say much (if anything at all) on the role of the funeral director and embalmer in concern with "modern day" Pagan religion.

So where does the funeral director and embalmer fit in to the Pagan funeral/memorial? What role do we play? Are we even involved at all? Where would a funeral/memorial, traditionally be held? How long does the service take?

I would really appreciate any feedback and as much information as possible. Thank you all so much and I hope to hear from you soon!

Most Common Misconceptions About Your Religion?

When you discuss your faith with others, what is the most common misconception(s) you encounter?

Bonus question: which misconception annoys you the most?

Not Ready Because You're Interested?

I dunno if anyone read my other thread about priest/esses. I posted it on several other boards, just to see what kind of responses I'd get. (The topic interests me because I study psychology; I'm trying to understand the transition from a "layperson" to a "priest/ess".)

Well, I got the standard response to this kind of question, "if someone is asking, s/he isn't ready. They mustn't want this if they are to be ready."

However, no one has ever explained this to me. So I was wondering if anyone of ya'll would be able to put it into prespective for me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Importance of Dreams?

How important are dreams in your spirituality? What are your opinions on where your dreams come from? Have you had any life-altering dreams or premonition via dreams?

Making (or Raising) a Priest/ess

I don't believe that any of the Priesthood are suddenly born or you wake up one day and there you are, a (high) Priestess (bada bing, bada boom.) I know it's something that takes time, practice, a mature knowledge of the material and world (beyond just an encyclopedia), Grace, and wisdom, but I've often wondered how people get to that point.

So, say you are a Priest/ess and you had a newbie (or maybe not) in front of you, asking what you need to be to be a Priest/ess. What would you tell them? What tips do you think are helpful to "grow" or "raise" a Priest/ess?

Timeless Truth?

Plenty of religions say that they have a truth. Some go on to say that they have the Truth. You know, the timeless kind applicable to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It follows that since they have the Truth, everyone should accept and obey it...according to them, anyway.

Question time!

1) Do you believe that there is a universal truth? Why or why not?

2) Assuming it exists, can we comprehend it? Can we come to understand it purely through our own effort, or must there be some other agency (e.g. deities, UFOs, etc.)?

3) Is timeless truth necessarily the thing to live by? After all, what's good for all circumstances mightn't be best for a circumstance... what do you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Samhain Recipies

Because I have too much time on my hands and not enough people to spend it with. Oh and we pronounce id Sovvan around here. That is a Southern Irish way of talking and my people are from the veriest southernest western tip of Ireland.

These are not authentic pre-Christian recipies, but traditional to my family anyways.

Feel free to share some of your favorite Samhain recipies too.

Frugal Living Tips?

Hubby and I are trying to get our money under control -- we haven't effectively dealt with the pay cut he took to switch to a less stressful job in July, and we've got mounds of debt we should be paying on and a very small savings account we should be building up. We actually have a budget now, but we're looking to make a bit more room in it for those things.

Anyway. I know we've got quite a few people here who know stuff about stuff, and I hoped some of you might be able to help us figure out ways to cut our cost-of-living without resorting to eating nothing but peanut butter. Anyone have any great frugal living tips to share?

So far most of mine seem to involve cleaning. Making one's own cleaners (recipes available if anyone's interested) instead of buying harsh chemical ones for $5/bottle seems to come out cheaper... And for the things I've not found a good homemade replacement for, warehouse clubs seem to be a good idea. (We pay $12 a box, I think, for dishwasher detergent and it literally lasts us six months.)

Frivolous, Addicting? How Do You Use Your Magic?

I know I'm starting to sound like a fluffy when I talk about "magical addiction" but it really does happen, and mostly to the young, impatient, and young in practice. Does anyone here suffer from it, dealt with it, or help others come to terms with it?

Some people view magic as a tool like anything else, and use it often, and sometimes for everything they could possibly think of using it for. I know many witches, magicians, and so forth that use it for little things like: changing the traffic lights, getting the waiter's attention, finding the best parking spot, and what-have-you. The argument often being, "Magic is a tool to make life easier, and we use it so."

Others view magic as a last resort, only using it after EVERY OTHER venue has been taken. Often viewed as a "gift" and "shouldn't be taken lightly."

And still, there are those out there that magic shouldn't be used save the ut-most EXTREME of times, that may never come up in a person's life. These are often feats that any average magical practitioner couldn't even pull off by themselves.
This is leading me into another topic of philosophical interest that I'll put into another thread.

So, where do you fall? I thought about making this a poll, but it requires too much explaining to be so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Gender of Magic

A lot of times when people talk about magic, they talk about "women's magic" or "men's magic". Do you think this is a legitimate distinction?

I'm inclined to think that saying "women's magic" is sort of like saying "women's electricity". She might be more likely to use the power for her curling iron than an electric facial razor, but that doesn't say anything about the electricity itself.

Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Between Samhain and Yule

I've come across the idea (in a Neo-Wiccan context, I think) of taking a break from doing magic between Samhain and Yule, similar to not doing magic on the two days before the new moon. I was wondering if these ideas were widespread or just something somebody made up randomly.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Religion and Relationships

We often visit the topic of religion and family, but it is usually in terms of how to deal with a spouse that doesn't share your beliefs, how to deal with religious instruction of children when grandparents don't agree, etc.

I would like to address that issue from a different angle. What are some of the ways that your religious outlook affects your interactions with partners or family members? For example, I would imagine that someone married in a Catholic church would have a different view of marriage than someone who is handfasted. How (specifically) does your religion or your Deity(s) affect your relationship beliefs or behaviors?

Friday, October 14, 2005

You're Not Pagan Enough...

...or you're the "wrong kind."

How do you feel about individuals who make being the right "kind" of pagan a very important and fundamental thing? I'm not talking about somene who believes that if you aren't a Recon or trad Wiccan you aren't really pagan, this is from people within the same religious group. Essentially, it's if you do "x", even if you keep it separate from your religion, you just aren't a specific type of pagan.

Is this something you think will become more common? How do you handle people/groups who do this?

Dealing With Neo-Nazis In Pagan Groups?

I've been in the swithers about this for a while and I wonder if some could help give me a 'context' or a way of thinking or dealing with this kind of thing.

I believe in free speech. Totally. But I also believe in knowledge.

Hmm, maybe the best way of trying to explain my predicament is by an example.

I'm sure all of you know about the various neo-nazi and white supremist groups out burning their little crosses and spewing hate.

Some of these groups as you know, have adopted 'pagan' trappings as well as their 'interesting' political stance. Not just the Asatru sounding ones, there are other's as well, 'disguised' by various 'occult' additions to their central remit.

Now, one of the prime goals of most of these groups is recruitment. The usual method is to target certain demographics, infiltrate the group and begin the process. Many people think they are easily spotted. But they are not. I've been 'tracking' a number of these groups for a long time: I'm aware of most of the 'code words', 'code numbers' and 'code names'. I am also lamentably familier with their rhetoric.

Thing is, many people, especially young and inexperienced people, are not. Also, many pagans pride themselves on their openess to ideas ( a good thing ). But it also makes them good 'targets' . I have been watching the rise of the infiltration of these darlings into a number of pagan groups. They are much more sophisticated in their rhetoric now.

There are many 'good' workers who can mask their intentions in the 'group speak' which they infiltrate. But sooner or later, by the references they use, the 'messages' they repeat , and often, the very up-front use of certain names - they will show themselves. Also, there may be a glaring ommision, for instance, an ignorance of something they should know about if they are who they say they are and believe what they are pretending to believe. But just because someone is a neo-nazi , doesn't mean they are stupid. They can run to a very convincing riff if you don't know.

So, say you track one of these wolves (who is in a group you belong to) to their lair. Say you have read their work and their intentions to infiltrate and convert and recruit.

Do you: Do nothing - everyone has the right to be persuaded to join any group , even if one is initially brought into it under 'false pretenses' ( i.e. - This is a 'pagan' way or " I can help you with your problem")?

Do you: Call them on it?

Do you make others in the group aware of the 'disguise' and the intention?

Do you: just trust that others will twig, or that the 'targets' will seek other opinions?

See, my normal response is "The world is full of hate-filled nut bars, only act if it's a problem".

But when I think of younger, inexperienced people who are not aware of who they are dealing with , falling for the 'bait', I worry. Especially when I am reading something right out of the neo-nazi script and see a beginner or a person in need buying into it out of ignorance of the 'signs'.


What Are The Three Greatest Evils?

What do each of you consider to be the three top evils humans have to contend with?

The answers may come from your path or from your heart or mind.

Please list them in order of evilness, with number one taking top honors -- if evilness can be associated with honors -- and perhaps a short statement supporting your answer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Full Time Clergy?

I've been thinking. After this year, I would really like to step away from my ordinary job and take a shot at becoming full time Clergy. I am already recognized in my Trad as a Priestess, and I have state recognition to do other ministerial work.

How do I pay the bills?

So many pagans are dead set against charging for religous services, how can someone make a living doing ministerial work? Is ministerial work even neccesary? Am I setting myself up for heartbreak and abject misery?

I've done prison ministry, street ministry and homeless outreach before along with trad centered stuff. There just wasn't time enough in a day to do the best job possible while still making rent.

So, help me brainstorm a solution! I always think better with input from outside sources.

Ideas For Homemade Holiday Gifts?

I got to thinking that what with our Year of Crafting project going on and the number of cooks and other crafting types we have here on TC, now might be a really good time to start a thread on homemade Christmas gifts.

Whether it's baking, canning, stitching, gluing...doesn't matter. If you're going to handmade route this year and want to brag or post to get ideas, this is the place to do it.

Recipes are welcome. Crafting directions welcome. Pictures welcome. It's mid-October and a good time to get started on holiday projects!

Leaving A Group?

I'm feeling really uncomfortable with the group that I'm with, but I don't know how to leave without alienating anyone. I know I want to leave and I've known this for awhile, but every time I try to talk about it with any of them, they tell me that it's just me being restless, and that if I ignore it, it'll go away. They don't want me to leave, and I'm in contact with two of them often enough that they'll try to bring me back into the group if I do manage to get out. I just don't know how to get out without hurting friendships, and how to stay out.

Any thoughts?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Should We Stick To Lies?

Imagine for a moment you had a friend. Let's call her Cassandra, because I like tragic seers.

Cassandra worships Tubbylicious, the Chief God of the Nomoreinexistence tribe. At dawn and sunset she performs meditations, and every thirteenth day she fasts. She enters states of ecstasy and claims to receive visions and advice regularly from her patron. After all the turmoil in her life, Tubbylicious has given her meaning, stability and joy.

But after studying the Nomoreinexistence tribe, you find out that they were, in fact, an ancient spacefaring civilisation who snorted magic mushrooms and were all atheist. In fact, Tubbylicious never existed.

i) Should you tell Cassandra?

ii) How important is it for a person's worship to be 'truthful' as opposed to simply beneficial for them?

iii) To make it more abstract: even if lies are more beneficial to us, is truth somehow always 'better'?

Never Too Early To Speculate About 2008

I'm trying to come up with a strong Democratic presidential ticket. If America was properly liberal as I'd like it to be, Hilary Clinton as pres and Kuchenic (sp) as as vice pres would be good. But given America as it is, who would be a good vp for Hilary.

Or if Hilary Clinton doesn't seem the best choice for the Democratic presidential nominee, who ought to be?

And since some folks are Republicans -- who do you guys want to put in the White House after that Shrub goes away?

Your Favorite Charity?

Do you have a favorite charity? Do you prefer to give money or things? Is there any specific cause you feel is important?

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