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?

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