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?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Pagan Community in Your Area?

What is the "Pagan community" like in your area? Is it large or small, open or pretty hidden, friendly or cliquish? Is it dominated by one Pagan religion or are there many different Pagan religions interacting? Do the various groups and religions get along fairly well most of the time -- or is it more like a soap opera?

Looking for Finnish Mythology/Magic Resources

I was talking with my husband last night about the interesting things one can find in Finnish mythology and its magical paradigms. It sounded pretty cool, but he couldn't remember what books he'd read about it. So, does anyone here have any recommendations for me to look at?

Deity-Finding Process

I have been thinking about the Pagan relationships with deity (deities) and their understanding of deity . And I have a few questions to those of you who are theistic/theistically oriented in your approach (Illgrace, I do not wish to exclude you, by any means!):

The first question that comes to my mind as a Christian who has a bit of a polytheistic leaning herself is: how did you become aware of the deities you work with? Were you chosen by Them or did you choose to approach Them first?

How did you build a relationship and understanding of that deity? Was it something encouraged by the group/traditional framework in which you work? Or did you choose that deity outside the communal framework? Could the solitaries with no group experience just skip the question please? :-)

What were the sources you consulted and how did you evaluate UPG as compared to these sources? What were the methods you used/use for deity-relationship (meaning those that produce UPG or personal deity experiences specifically now)?

What are the terms you have with the deity? Are there even any or is it more of an occassional "Do this and I will do that for you" (on the deity's part!) type of relationship?

And another question: I remember Bob saying in the "Interpantheon Relationships" thread:

"However, if the person's UPG flies in the face of sources we do have, they get called on it." (my paraphrase)

I understand the sentiment expressed with this when it comes to extreme interpretations (such as Freya as a goddess of romantic (in the 19th century sense) love) but where is the line drawn with the UPG that can make a case for itself, while contradicting the sources/current scholarly interpretation (e.g Bast comes to a person as a godddess of passion and fertility (I think that fertility might be considered an aspect of prosperity and as the Bast of the Graeco-Roman period had taken over a few of Hert-herts aspects as a love and fertility goddess too)?

Could the Recons please clarify on the issue a bit and please feel free to call me on my as yet scarce knowledge of the Eddas and the Book of the Dead.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Religion and Stress Management

Since we all, or at least everyone I know, have some level of stress in their lives I was wondering about the different approaches to managing it. I know meditation and work-outs work well for me, but at times even those don't seem to take the edge of enough.

So, my question is basically how do you manage your stress, aside from working out or meditation? Or are those your primary means of managing it? Do you employ some aspect of your faith, religion, system of beliefs (pick a term, no disrespect intended, some folks don't like to 'label') and if so, may I be so nosey as to ask the general workings of it? In other words, do you do a relaxation 'spell' or working, or do you employ some other form of ritual?

Totems, What's Yours?

I'm doing a survey of those willing to answer. What is your totem, if you have one and how do you represent it, either as something portable (rabbit's foot) if you do that, or on your altar or where ever you put such a representation? Do you have a live version of it (if it has pet possibilities)?

Help With Setting Up My Altar?

I live in a very busy household, and I am having a hard time setting up my altar without losing everything. I've got 4 cats that like to jump on things, one rambunctius, hyper dog, a dad who dosen't like incencse (sight or smell) and not alot of space to put one, apart from my dresser top, which the cats get on.

Does anyone have a idea for what I can do?

Interpantheon Interaction

In many myths we see romance, friendship and conflict between deities of a certain pantheon - e.g. Zeus and Hera.

What about interaction between pantheons? Do deities from one pantheon acknowledge or interact with deities from other pantheons? And how does this affect their worshippers?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Less Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Recently I've heard folks pooh-pooh using the Less Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) because it uses JCI imagery and is thus a no-no for pagans.

I personally find that silly and have no intention of stopping our occasional use of it. We particularly use it at our semi-annual house cleansings.

What do others think?

Spirits - Your Place or Mine

I was reading through the thread "Spirit/presence of a place" and a thought struck me. Assuming you are not one of those who believes that everything has to have a mundane explanation and assuming that spiritual beings actually cohabitate with us?

Why does everyone seem to jump to the assumption that spirits are harmful and question how to get rid of them? Have you ever considered that the spirit you encounter may be your tritopatores (third forefather) come to help with your fertility problems? Could it be some lost soul that has need of your help to resolve a past issue so it can move on? Or maybe some spiritual being that doesn't care about you for good or evil but has as much right to live there as you do?

Is Suffering Sacred?

Often when I hear people talk about particularly 'holy' individuals, some sort of suffering is inevitably mentioned - be it fasting, poverty, torture, etc. It seems that the more ascetic the person, the holier they are. What do you think?

i) Is suffering sacred? Is suffering in itself something spiritual that brings one closer to divinity?

ii) Is the person who voluntarily makes sacrifices more spiritual than the person who doesn't?

iii) Conversely, are people who enjoy material pleasures somehow more profane?

iv) Is 'true' spirituality/religion somehow incompatible with having fun?

A Religion of One?

Is a "religion of one" really a religion, or is it a spirituality? Does it only become a religion when other people convert to it?

A few people have mentioned their private spirituality in terms of religion of one, but the way I understand the word religion, it comes from the Latin meaning to tie or bind. I took that to mean that it's something that binds people together. So you could have a Jewish person who doesn't believe in God but is part of the Jewish culture, or a cultural Christian who celebrates Christmas and Easter with their family but doesn't believe in Jesus.

I read something a few years ago online where some people from Hawaii were making fun of neo-Pagans who've read that Scott Cunningham book about kahunas and think they're practicing Hawaiian Paganism. To them, there is no "religion", only culture and the practices of their ancestors. You could no more be practicing their "religion" than you could hang a picture of someone else's mother on your wall and claim to be her child.

At what point does a cultural practice become religious? (In China, Buddhists honor their ancestors, but ancestor worship is not actually a tenet of Buddhism, for example).

At what point does private spirituality become a religion? Is it the codifying of creeds or specific rituals?

If we each come up with our own theology, is it even theology? If we each have our own unique one, then is it still the "study of god" or has it become the "study of our individual Selves and how we relate to the Universe"?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

No 'paganism' without 'religion'?

This question may sound simplistic, naive or even ignorant. But I believe words and how they are used are powerful. They can shape thought and action. This question is one I re-visit (and it has been discussed here) many times. It's about the word 'religion'.

I have no problem with religions of any stripe (as long as live sacrifice or huge cash donations are not involved).

The problem is, I see a trend that while slowly growing for quite a while, is now at the 'top of the class'. Which is fine. But it puts quite a number of people out in the cold.

I spent quite a while this morning reading and re-reading the definitions here and other places as to what constitutes 'paganism'. Of course , the word religion came up a lot,i.e. "Paganism is a term for a number of religions" etc. Here's the twist:

What if one 'self-identifies' with paganism, but does not consider what they do a 'religion'. Following that logic, one can't call themselves a pagan.

I've noted a number of letters to beginners lately stating 'paganism is a religion'. Or, a number of posts with "What does your religion ask, tell, require of you" or "How do you see your religion in these terms ________" etc., etc.

I realize that for a lot of people here, this question is irrelevant. But it's important for those like myself who see this trend that all paganism can be neatly tucked in the box marked 'religion (s)' to understand if this is where 'paganism' stands in the world (at least the Western World) now.

Also, it causes one to pause before putting input into a thread or one has to preface everything with "Well, I don't have a 'religion', do I still have a say?" (yes, I know one does, what I mean is one gets the feeling after awhile that they are somewhere they don't belong, or have to 'ask permission', KWIM?)

So, do most people consider what they do 'religion'?

Is a 'Chaos magician' following a religion?
Is 'Reconstructionism' in whole 'religion'?
Is the belief and crafts which some follow which has been given the nomen 'witchcraft' , a religion?
Are Ceremonial Magicians (priests or acolytes) of a religion and would it be the Christian religion or a variant of it or something else entirely?

If all one does is magic, is that 'religion'? Of course, the answer is no, and yet it seems this is changing. Magic is something that can 'accompany' a religion , but cannot stand on it's own. (or, so some say).

And so forth.

Is it all 'religion' now? And please, this is a serious question and one that is being talked about among quite a few people. I am prepared for the 'what does it matter?' response, but it's a 'bigger' question, not just personal to me, but a question of what 'space' paganism occupies now in the culture.

Why Wicca isn't [blank]?

In another thread someone posted a link to the article "Why Wicca isn't Celtic."

I think that article is pretty good if, as the author says, pressed for space.

So here is my challenge to all of you. If you are a Wiccan, how does your religion contrast with other or another religion(s). If you are not Wiccan what are some points of differences between what you do and Wicca? Can you do it in under a 1000 words? How about under 500? Don't feel limited by my numbers, I just was thinking that the author of the mentioned article was also constrained by a word limit.

September Message Board Statistics

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum's message board had 11,527 posts in September 2005. Cyn (LLABRYS), Eadie, Co-conspirator of Doom (GARNET), Storyteller Cat (CHAVI) and Treekisser contributed the most messages to our board last month.

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