Sunday, December 31, 2006

Worship of Classical Elements

Does anyone assign a god to each corresponding element?

Like, Neptune = water, Vesta = fire, and so on?

Is this a popular practice? Or do most just worship the all-encompassing spirit?

The Smell of Sage...

I love the smell of sage, but it tends to realy stick in the house for a while. It doesn't seem to matter how much of it I burn, either. It it stays lit for more than 10 minutes, you'll be able to smell it at least all day if not for veral days afterward, so I burn it VERY rarely. Is there any good way to lighten the smell? Am I using the wrong stuff? I may need to just use it during outdoor rituals only, or at times when all the windows can be open (not when it's cold out!)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wicca in Mainstream Fiction?

I don't know if any of you read Miss Snark's blog. If you're a writer, you probably already do, but if not, even for non-writers, she's a hoot. Anyway, recently, she's been helping people write "hooks" for their fiction. And one of those hooks, I found made me howl with laughter, because it felt so... hilariously wrong.

Desperate Pagans

So, what do you think? Would you read it? Do you read fiction that depicts Wiccans and/or Pagans as they are in today's society (as opposed to what is clearly fantasy where fantasy tropes are integral to the story)? Do people tend to get it right in your opinion?

My take: maybe it's just because it's not the best-written hook in the world, but it feels like in this example, the author has never actually set foot in a traditional coven meeting. It seems as though it might have more appeal, honestly, to those who aren't Wiccan and wouldn't know better.

And a semi-non-serious question: should Paganism get it's own subgenre like Gay/Lesbian Literary Fiction or Inspirational?

Daily Prayers?

I am trying to develop a daily practice of prayer in my path, and I was just wondering what type of rituals, if any, you use in prayer, if you use a certain language, things like that.

Message Board Back Up

Our message board went down in the wee hours of the morning (US Time). It came back up about noon -- thanks are due to Bob for fixing whatever broke.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Masculine? Feminine?

For those people for whom "Masculine" and "Feminine" are important determinators, what makes the difference? What makes something masculine or feminine?

And are these generalities that often lose in the specific, or is there something other than bits that's truly *masculine* and women don't have or *feminine* and men don't have?

(as far as transgender, for this discussion, I assume they are the sex they feel they should be, not the one they're born as. so they could have the male-thing and the female bits. Whatever that male-thing is)

Review: The Mystic Foundation

This book is an extremely ambitious undertaking by anyone's standards. In it, Christopher attempts to lay bare the commonalities which underlie most spiritual paths. In fact, the appendix even includes extracts from the sacred writings of paths as divergent as Muslim (the Koran), Hindu (the Vedas), Zoroastrian, and Wiccan. And that list does not include all the sources he uses.

Review: Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion

I will admit here and now that I picked this book for review because, having been raised Roman Catholic until I left home (many years ago), I was well aware of the borrowings by the Christians from the Pagans and was interested to see how this author approached the subject. Professor Walter is professor of medieval French literature at Universite Stendahl in Grenoble. He is the author of numerous books on the Middle Ages and has overseen editing of Grail romances; all of which should make him familiar with the background of Christianity.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Finding the Male Aspect of the Divine

In my experience, many Pagan religions, or at least the most well-known groups and books, focus strongly on the Goddess, and I have always related strongly to a feminine view of the Divine. However, I'm finding a need for the male aspect in my life lately, and I'm not sure how to honor it. I see myself as a very strong (strong-willed and thick-headed) woman, and I have a relationship with Kali. It would seem natural, then, to try and develop a relationship with a male from Hindu pantheon, but I have yet to feel drawn to one of them.

I think I'm feeling some resistance to masculine gods because of my negative experiences with a very patriarchal church (I grew up Catholic in a very traditional area of Louisiana), but I would like to put those feelings behind me and start to cultivate a healthy relationship with masculinity, which I see as a different kind of strength from that of Kali and other feminine deities.

I also feel that developing a relationship with a male deity could help me be more understanding of men in my life, from co-workers to my fiance.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm asking here, but I think I could use some advice from all you wise and wonderful folks who have always had such great insights to offer.

*How do you feel about deities of a different gender than your own?

*Do you feel a need to "work with" male and female gods?

*If/When you have wanted to develop a relationship with a deity or other being, how did you go about it, and did it work?

Imbolc & Brighid -- Books, Stories, Legends, etc.?

I'm constantly on the prowl for new ideas for celebration. Casting a circle and writing ritual -- it works for some people, but it does nothing for me. I love circles, but I haven't figured out how to make them happen unless it's about something bigger than me. Samhain's about the only sabbat I can cast a circle for by myself. Ritual writing is lost on me as well; it's one of the few creative things I can't find any foothold in. And this discussion is not about that. So. Another time!

In preparation for Imbolc, I'm looking for both ancient myths & legends or books about/regarding Brighid (since the feast is for her!) and I'm looking for some ideas of solitary celebration.

My current plans include making corn muffins and honey butter from scratch, making a new candle, getting bundled up and taking a hike into the woods with some of the muffins & butter & the candle, and a warm blanket, finding a not-so-snowy spot, and _________. Mostly I just sit and eat some of what I've brought to offer, and leave the rest, and enjoy what They have given to us. Sometimes I'll read, hence the asking about the reading material.


I'm very confused about what the difference between Neo-Wicca and what is 'real Wicca'. (I was just reading the back end of the thread about the sister wanting to learn about Wicca). I'd really appreciate someone clearing this up a little for me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from the Hosts and Staff of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, we hope it is a joyful one! May your God(s) bless you, your family, and all the world.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Need Help Finding Early 1970s Spell Book

When I was much younger I bought a book of spells. This book was purchased in 1973 or 74. I imagine it was published between 1965 and 1974. The best I can recall is it was a spell book and candle magick book. It had the word "witchcraft" in the title. There was a somewhat complicated spell on empowering a magick ring that involved burying the ring in a iron (or maybe copper) pot for a month. It was a paperback book and if I recall correctly had a photo on the front of candles and other magick related paraphernalia. That is about all I can remember.

It was the book that got me interested in magick and led to me becoming a pagan. Once my Christian Mother found the book I never saw it again. I have tried Amazon and B&N but books of that age with only a single printing don't warrant a full listing with description and contents. I am amazed at the number of books with witchcraft in the title that were published between those dates so just buying them all is out of the question. I realize this is not much to go on but maybe I will get lucky and someone will know this book. Any ideas are appreciated.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Teen Practice

I've been perusing the threads in the Pagan Teens section, not only on this website, but on many others, and I have read things posted by teens about feeling alone and not knowing any other pagans [I know how that goes, believe me].

I was just curious, those that are pagan teens now and who were pagan teens way back when, what sort of things did you do to practice your religion and connect with others who followed similar traditions?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yule Celebrations?

This question is mostly for Wiccans, but I'm interested in what other pagans do to. How do you celebrate Yule? Christians have their Christmas trees, Jews have the menoras, what do we do? (I'm new to Wicca and therefor have never celebrated Yule before, so I'm just asking for a little guidance.)

Magick: Two Beginner Witchcraft Spells For Money And Protection

Your first spell in any path of Witchcraft should be one of protection. There are two reasons for this. First, protection spells are very safe... even if you are inexperienced, no harm can come from casting a protection spell the "wrong way"...

The second reason is because most protection spells are relatively easy. I've given you one here, and also a simple money spell you can do too...

Magick: All About Poppet Magick

Magick with Poppets is usually done when you are directing a spell at a specific person (hopefully with their permission, and never to affect their free will). For example, spells for healing, loosing weight, protection, and love (remember, you must have their permission!). You can get poppet materials at any good wicca store.

Creating a Poppet is very simple. All you need is some cloth (or fabric) in a color that feels right for the spell you are trying to cast. Poppets are created in such a way where you can stuff them with special herbs depending on the spell you are casting.

Magick: Colors Can Enhance Your Magick Energy

Remember, you don't need anything external to do Magick. The Magick is inside of you.

But, especially when you are just beginning, certain things can increase your desired effects of Magick (in very big ways) - such as colors and wicca symbols...

This is because you are able to draw on the energies added by external tools (which each are imbued with their own energies). More importantly, you draw on the added belief these tools add to your subconscious mind.

Book Review: All Acts of Pleasure

I have an almost iron-clad rule when it comes to reviewing books. Unless a review is time-sensitive, or I have a particular request for a review, books get reviewed in the order I receive them. This book almost made me break my own rule. I had just started reading another book, when an Advanced Reader's Copy of All Acts of Pleasure arrived in my mail box. I have thoroughly enjoyed the "Rowan Gant Investigations" series to date, so I almost jumped right into this one. Then I decided, "No, I'll do the other review first and I can have this one for dessert in a few days."

Book Review: Silver's Lure

This is the third book in the series by this author. It is the prequel to the first two books. I have been looking forward to getting this book since I finished reading the first two books (Silver's Bane and Silver's Edge). It sets out the background to a world which feels quite familiar to those readers who are conversant with Celtic mythology.

Book Review: Silver's Bane

I suppose you might consider this second volume of the "Silver" trilogy to be "chick lit" (as you might have considered the preceding work Silver's Edge, but if you try to limit it so severely, you will be doing the book, the series, its author, and yourself a disservice. This is fantasy with a feminine perspective, certainly. And it is Celtic-based storytelling at its best.

Bok Review: Silver's Edge

Okay, I can hear a few groans even as I start this review. A Harlequin book; a love story; have I lost my mind? I hope not. There are plenty of heroic fantasy books on the market, most of which are told from the masculine point of view. This is heroic fantasy with a feminine slant, and with an understanding of Paganism firmly in place.

Book Review: Strings of Connection

AuthorHouse is one of the specialty publishing firms which have grown up in recent years (since 1997 for this particular self-publishing venture). Like the vast majority of them, it offers reasonably priced books for niche markets. Also like the majority of them, unfortunately, it has one rather bothersome shortcoming - quality control. Sometimes it is merely poor editing (missing quotation marks, improper paragraphing, etc., which are in the domain of the author), but once in a while it is something more serious. The copy I got for review had a couple of pages bound out of sequence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gwyddionaid vs Gwyddioniad?

Ok, color me confused. Can anyone explain the difference between

Gwyddionaid (


Gwyddioniad (

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fictional magic in a real world?

I've recently been working on a piece of fiction, that I'm hoping to turn into a book, and (goddess willing) make more money than the queen like good old JKR did with HP.

Anyway...There's a lot of magic in this book, and I know I've slipped a couple of things in there that I personally use in my own craftwork/spellwork/magic... whatever you want to call it.

So I got to wondering. Have any of you read something from a piece of fiction and incorporated it into your workings...

Best examples I can give are:

- "The will and the word", the magic system used in David Eddings Belgarriad and Malorian series.

- "Sunrunning" the system used in Melenie Rawn's Dragon Prince saga.

How Big is Too Big?

The mention of a 14,000 member church in another thread prompted me to wonder: Is there such a thing as group worship where the group is too big? Does it reach a point where it's just too hard to keep everything organized and under control, or where it's just impossible to make a connection with the other worshipers? Or does a bigger number just mean more energy and more enthusiasm?

I suppose this might be best answered by those who have led public rituals and might have some experience with differing group sizes, though certainly any and all input is valued.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brigit Flamekeeping Cills

Flamekeeping Cills, in this usage, are devotees/priestesses of the goddess Brigit, who take turns tending an eternal flame to the goddess. I've seen some information around about these groups, and I'm interested in perhaps joining one, but I've been unable to find a group that's open to new members.

Someone here, in another thread (apologies for the vagueness, but I read it last week and I had a terrible weekend) mentioned being part of a Cill, so I was hoping I could net some good info by starting a thread.

Midsummer Celebration Ideas Wanted

Happy Midsummer everyone!

Because it's nearly the summer solstice here in Australia, I want to do something special. But I'm a Newbie and need ideas.

Thoughts on a solitary ritual, recipes, etc would be good. Any websites or books you can point me to would also be appreciated.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New Moon and Yule

I just realised, that Yule this year falls only two days after the new moon, so I was thinking I might coincide the two rituals. I am thinking of kind of a 'new beginnings' ritual, very fitting to both Yule and a new moon, and also to my life at the moment. The coming year is likely to bring me some major changes. I was wondering what ritual ideas you folks might have for a 'new beginnings' ritual. I am thinking of doing some work with candles, but not sure what yet, I will almost certainly do my normal candle meditation, but what else I don't know. Any ideas very welcome!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Book Review: True Magick (2006 Edition)

This is a revision 0f one of the "standards" in the field. Amber shares a great deal of background with me. We both came into the Craft in the 1970s through the Temple of the Pagan Way in Chicago; neither of us claims an ancestral tradition; and we both believe in cutting through the "mystic, trystic b.s..."

Book Review: The Pickingill Papers

Bill Liddell, writing as Lugh, published a series of letters in "The Wiccan" and "The Cauldron" magazines over a spread of two decades (1974 to 1994). His writings have been at the center of an on-going debate which continues to this day. Why did he write those letters? Did he write to disprove the "authenticity" of Gardnerian-derived Wicca? Was it disinformation to smear the reputation of a man who, although properly trained, went against the wishes of his elders? Was it an organized campaign, or the work of a single man?

Book Review: Modern Pagans

This is not a new book, but I have only recently begun to see copies of it locally. It is composed, overwhelmingly, of interviews with 50 individuals who each present their view of Paganism, its history and its future.

Book Review: Pagan Christmas

The subtitle of this book ("The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide") helps to explain why I wanted to review it. Far too often people focus of the most visible of Yuletide symbols - the tree, the presents, the mistletoe and the decorations - and ignore the myriad of other details which surround this time of year. So I felt drawn to investigate these background items.

Book Review: The Haitian Vodou Handbook

I have a certain level of trepidation as I read any book devoted to a religion which actively incorporates the use of magic in the daily life of its followers. The gods (or in this case, the lwa) know that there exists a surplus of "spell books" on the market today. There are plenty of books which reveal the "inner workings" of "non-traditional" (read "mainstream") religions. And the number of authors out there who claim high degrees of initiation which prohibit them from saying anything intelligible is legion. This is NOT one of those books and/or authors.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Educating Others About Your Faith?

I noticed that we talk a lot about the ignorance of others, how so many people confuse Pagans with "devil worshippers," and so forth. So... I have a few questions. :-D

1) Do you think it's neccessary or appropriate to educate others about your religion?

2) When is/isn't it appropriate?

3)What do you wish people understood about your religion/path?

4) If you support educating the masses about your religion (and others, I would assume), how do you see that happening? What do you or could you do day-to-day to help that happen?

Personal Interpretation vs. Different Religion

When does ones beliefs that differ from the general consensus of ones path cease to be simply ones personal interpretation and become signs that one is not of that path?

I have often had trouble reconciling my beliefs with those I have encountered who are supposed to be on the same path as myself. While most Pagan paths do allow for a certain degree of personal interpretation and UPG, I can't help but feel that sometimes, personal interpretation goes so far as to make ones beliefs a new religion.

In my personal experience, my beliefs do align better with a different path than simply as a personal interpretation of another, hence my choice to pursue conversion. I was curious, however, to see what other opinions or experiences are out there.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gardening: Growing Your Own Herbs

If you're not the type of person that wants to spend their time managing an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and maintaining an herb garden. While the product might not seem as significant, you'll still enjoy the constant availability of fresh, delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.

Gardening: Planting A Wildflower Garden

Full of vibrant colors and interesting textures, the wildflower meadow are often a welcome change to the lawn or the traditional garden . Since the meadow landscape is based on a natural landscape and are self-sustaining they require a clear understanding of a site's natural environment. Wildflower meadows are dynamic. Some species in the meadow will survive year after year while others may disappear and be replaced with something new. Wildflower meadows are not just beautiful, they're also ecological beneficial. They are only mowed once a year, introduce native species of plants and attract wildlife.

Gardening: Home Composting -- 10 Ways to Make it Successful for You

Gardening is a fun and invigorating activity. It keeps one busy and productive and brings the creativity and ingenuity in everyone. Gardening beautifies our homes but it also produces a good deal of yard waste. What better way to make this waste work out for you than to use it to enrich your garden through composting? You'd be making your soil more fertile for the health of your plants and at the same time, you'd be helping you community dispose of waste in the cleanest, cheapest and easiest manner. Here are some simple ways to make home composting successful for you:

Webcrafting: Top 5 Web Design Pet Peeves

The evolution of web sites over the past ten years has been amazing. What started out as a motley gathering of crassly designed personal sites has evolved into a varied collection of multimedia presentations, dynamic online journals and stylishly designed online brochures.

What has not changed, however, is bad web page design.

Webcrafting: Accessible Web Design Tips

Here are some simple rules for developing modern accessible web sites. We will just touch on a few of the main rules, as there are too many to cover here, but sticking to these rules will get you off to a good start.

Driving the Sun-Chariot?

I'm curious: for those of you that believe in gods as they were portrayed before, who drives the sun? Is the moon a woman or a rock?

How do you balance the physical reality and the metaphysical?

Personally, I have no problem with the idea of being a god OF the sun without needing to actually drive it around. But I do wonder sometimes if we've stripped a little too much divinity from the sun and similar things when we speak only of the physical "reality" of them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Cauldron's NINTH Anniversary (Dec 13, 2006)

The Cauldron celebrates her Ninth Anniversary today. Nine years ago today -- on December 13, 1997 -- the folks at Delphi (now DelphiForums) got our new "Custom Forum" fully working. I had started the forum on December 10th, but due to a glitch the forum would not anyone but me post until the 13th. It took Delphi several days to fix it -- and this was back when you had to pay to start a forum.

The Cauldron was a Yule gift to Elspeth. TC started out very slow. I think by the end of three months, we only had 400 messages or so -- most from a small group of our friends. But the board grew with time. We've moved around a bit since then. First to a mailing list, then back to Delphi (reopening our original forum there), then when DelphiForums just got too annoying to live with Bob offered his server and to what is now our "Archive Board" here. When the upgrade to Beehive 0.6x proved to be a disaster of slowness, we moved to this older version of Beehive last February. Fortunately, our members have followed us from home to home.

A few of us (Elspeth, myself, and Ann for sure) have been here since day one, many more have joined us over the years and many have made TC their online home for many years. A lot of things both good (I met LyricFox here) and bad (lots of spammers) have happened here in nine years, and will -- with your support and the Gods willing -- continue for years to come.

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum could not have survived as long as it has without a large group of active and supportive members. To everyone reading this -- whether you joined eight or nine years ago or yesterday -- thank you for helping to make The Cauldron a success these last nine years. Special thanks to current or former members of TC Staff. Extra thanks and a keg of the best virtual beer to Bob for making his server available so we could get off of DelphiForums.

Congratulations for nine great years! BTW, this thread is not just a place to most "Happy Birthday," we hope long time members of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum will post in with some of their memories of our earlier years.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is Changing the Future Dangerous?

This lady did some love spells and money spells for me that really worked, but a friend told me that something bad will happen because I changed the future. Is that true you think?

Religion in the Workplace?

What are your thoughts on religion in the workplace? Have you ever had a problem with it? Does it make you uncomfortable?

Sources on Ishtar?

Can anyone point me toward solid, reliable resources on Ishtar (website, books)?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

New Cauldron Site Theme is Here

As you can tell, the new site theme mentioned yesterday is (mostly) here. The message board and a few small sections of the web site may still sport the old theme, but those area should be updated over the next few days.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Site Colors Coming Soon

After six or seven years, it's time for a change to the appearance of this site. While we'd love to do a complete site redesign with a modern CSS layout, we've finally admitted that we aren't likely to have time to do this -- after over two years of having a complete CSS redesign scheduled for "soon." Therefore will are just going to give the website a minor face lift: new colors and a slightly cleaner look. However, this minor update will make it much easier to integrate third party features into The Cauldron's web site because this site will use solid colors instead of background images. This will also make it load a bit faster.

The current plan is to roll out this change over the next few days. As different parts of the site are created with different tools, there will be times when one part of the site has the old look and another part of the site has the new look. In a few cases, the old look and the new look may co-exist on the same page for a while. Our apologies in advance for any site appearance weirdness as we update the site.

The default color theme on our message board will be changing to match the new look of the web site. However, if you prefer the current theme, it will be available as an optional theme from the settings menu.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Again with the Satanism Questions

A few comments on other threads got me thinking about what, if any, connection modern Satanism has to traditional views of (how shall I put this) adversarial gods. I'm thinking particularly about Darkhawk's statement:

quote: "the Temple of Set is, as modern interpretations of Big Red completely divorced from context go, really quite excellent as a way of putting forth His goals for people. Unfortunately, the context dropped is all the checks and balances on His goals as established within the system."

Never having heard of the Temple of Set before, I popped over to their site to have a look. I came away with two impressions:

1. This isn't the Big Red I know. ("Set is the lord of the subjective universe" -WTF?) Actually, there was very little written about the nature of Set himself.
2. Arrogant much? The front page fairly oozes superiority. Apparently I have to join an occult order to learn to be self-reliant and develop as a person. Dressing it up in italicized foreign words doesn't impress me much.

I admit I'm thinking mostly of Set here, but I guess this also applies to other similarly inclined gods. Is it just me, or did these Satanist groups more or less say "ooh, adversarial" and pick one as a mascot?

And what about the "checks and balances"? (Darkhawk, would you mind expanding a bit on that? :-) ) From what little I know, modern Satanism could easily swing into "You ignorant peasants are so totally beneath me" territory; is there anything pulling in the other direction?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Gods?

A lot of people will mention, in explaining either paganism as a whole or their own particular flavour of it, that they worship 'pre-Christian gods'. I've seen the term so often in recent threads that I've started wondering if JHVH is the 'baby of the family'.

Did the gods stop breeding abruptly 2000-odd years ago? Have none appeared/been born/revealed themselves since the dawn of Christianity?

Or is this a societally imposed moratorium on new gods, a feeling that in order to deserve current respect or worship one must have been around for millenia?

There have been so many changes in human society, new social systems, technologies, new cultures etc. that it seems strange that no new gods have appeared. Would someone who admits to worshipping a post-Christian god be seen as less serious, or less valid in their religious beliefs, than those who follow pre-Christian ones?

If Gods will themselves into existence, or appear in response to people's needs, why have they stopped? Is there a general feeling among people that 'we have enough, now, thanks', so that new gods would have a hard time getting recognized?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


A recent thread brought up some questions for me.

1.) Do you consider yourself a Pagan, if so why?

2.) How important is the Pagan identity to you?

3.) Is it better to have an all-inclusive concept of what is "pagan", or does doing so over generalize it's meaning?

It seems that the definition of a "pagan" has changed since last I looked. Originally it was Latin for someone who lives in the country. Now it's meaning has become very broad. One part of me is glad for this diversity, and another is a bit apprehensive.

In the end the term itself doesn't matter I suppose, but what it means to people.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wedding Question?

I was recently proposed to. Very romantic, at the Texas Reniassance Festival. Anyhow, I'm now left with the task of planning the wedding.

Herein lies the problem. I am Pagan, he is a Satanist, my family is Baptist and I don't know what his family is... We want to have an outdoor wedding, both of us have a strong connection to nature. Since we live in South Texas, we're not too limited on when we can have the wedding and still have an outdoor ceremony. Yay for South Texas! The problem that I'm having is how do I take both of our beliefs and still have a ceremony that all of our family and friends will understand/enjoy/not freak out about? His best man is Pagan, as is one of my bridesmaids. The rest are Christian/agnostic. Does anyone have any ideas?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Finding Common Ground?

Karen and I were talking about using some of the "buzzwords" to describe a Pagan religion to someone who isn't familiar with it. What I was telling her is that I suspect that that's one reason so many of the common Wiccanesque terms get used in interviews.

So if someone came up to you and asked you for a brief explanation of your religion, how would you handle it? Assume that the person is genuinely interested, doesn't know much (if anything) about your specific religion and isn't looking for a conversion opening.


I don't get the ritual act of food/libation offerings.

I don't understand why a god/dess would want me to pour milk or whatever into a bowl or on the ground, or to put a portion of food aside and then dispose of it.

It seems wasteful to me, and try as I might, I don't understand it. (I hope it goes without saying that I don't mean to offend anyone who uses this practice. I just don't understand it, and I'm curious.)

I have heard people talk about setting aside money as an offering, and then donating it to charity. Or donating canned goods to a food bank as an offering. I understand that, because the money or food isn't wasted, and is used by those who need it.

I'd really like to hear people's thoughts on this. Thanks!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Religions With Homework?

So it's popular for recons to refer to their faiths as "religion with homework", or something to that effect -- to note the importance of the research and sound historical basis and all that good stuff.

But one of the things I've seen in my own religious community on the subject is that it leads to terrible support for those people who aren't personally academically inclined, research junkies, or the like. The level of instruction I've seen has occasionally gotten beyond "Do these things, profess this belief" into a little bit of why and where it came from, but not much -- and not enough to counterbalance the number of tinpot dictators who are willing to trade on "I know what I'm doing" to pull in people who don't have the resources or the skills or the inclination to do the research themselves.

And of course, for communities like the Celts, where what's out there is pretty much limited to the deep academic study of the tiny amounts of evidence or crazed stuff pulled out of someone's arse ... oog.

How much has the lack of accessible historical resources affected those people who are either non-academics on a recon path or who are interested in doing a partially historically sound adaptation? For people who are reconstructionists in the academic mold, how does your community do on making concepts accessible?

What resources bridging the gap between the academic world and the interested pagan are out there? What resources do people think should be out there?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cycles of Religious Practice?

Do you notice you have cycles in your religious practice? I don't mean Wheel of the Year type cycles here. What I'm talking about is like... For a while you'll do a lot of religious stuff, a lot of ritual and a lot of working on your personal religious issues and doing research and whatever, but then for a while you'll do less and less, maybe get down to almost nothing before swinging back up again.

I've sort of vaguely noticed this in myself, though I haven't exactly charted it out to see how the cycles run. Pretty long, I'd guess, at least a year and maybe more. I was curious about whether anyone else had noticed the same thing about their own practice.

If you do notice this, does it cause any problems for you? Or is it easy enough to just go with the flow?

What Are Your Holidays?

What holidays do you celebrate the most? I don't necessarily mean what's most important in your religion (although my question is aimed at religious holidays), but which holiday(s) you do the most for, get the most excited about, etc. How do you celebrate those holidays?

Earth-Based? What and Why?

Occasionally we have the thread or poster who finds it very important to inform TC's members that all pagans are earth-based.

What makes a religion earth-based? What are the defining factors? What happens if you have five festivals held to pray for a good harvest interspersed with 30 festivals that have nothing to do with any agrarian function? Is that an earth-based religion and, if so, why?

And, further, why is it important that all pagans *be* earth-based? Does this act as some unifying feature? Does this have some meaning?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bah, Humbug!

Christmas is approaching and that's apparent here in Cauldron as well. :) Folks are chatting about their favourite and hated Christmas songs, there's talks on ornaments, trees and so forth.

Am I about the only person around here who couldn't care less about Christmas/Yule/(add season's holiday here) decorations, isn't interested in Christmas songs, hasn't even considered a tree and basically lives this holiday season as any other season?

I'm not "anti-Christmas", mind you, and there's plenty of good food seasonal available at this time of year but hard to find on others, we're going to do traditional (completely secular) family-socializing with good food, there's giving of gifts (something nice to closest family) - but the rest? No interest whatsoever.

Who Are You When You Die?

Let's say we don't just vanish when we die. There's an afterlife, be it the Summerland or Hades or Heaven, etc., and we go there as humans rather than some ball of energy or something.

Who is that 'self'?

Is it just the self you were when you died?

Is it a younger self, maybe you as a child or some other point in life? If so, why that particular self?

Is it a composite of all the selves you were during your life? But what if you had vastly conflicting views and traits during your life -- how would they be reconciled in your new spirit self?

If you believe that we aren't human-like in the afterlife, then what are the differences between the afterlife self you believe in and our mortal self?

Finally, a more concrete question. How would your views on the afterlife resolve this issue -- a man marries a wife, she dies, then he marries again. Once they're all dead, what's their relationship with each other like?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Teaching Children about Yule?

I have been learning about Wicca and many other forms of religion since I was in high school, I started to practice (in the closet). then I met my second husband and I have been able to say that I am out of the broom closet. I have been for a few years, still learning all the time.

I have a daughter that is getting interested with what I do, but I live with my parents at the moment, and they really don't let me do anything where they can see (they are LDS). I am not even allowed to have an altar where they can see. (It is in my closet at the moment *back in the closet dang*)

So I was wondering if anyone know of any sites or activities that would be fun that I could do with my daughter to help teach her about the Goddess and God and the earth without my parents freaking out too much.

I am really interested in something for Yule that kinda tie into Christmas (they really push the CHRIST in Christmas) that I could teach my daughter more about the joy of rebirth and the days getting longer. The God coming back into power. That sort of thing.

Something subtle would be nice.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thoughts on Winter Holidays?

How does everyone here feel about the holidays we celebrate at this time of year?

I'm buying Christmas presents for all my family memebers because it's a family tradition, and this is the one time of year when I can give them all something really nice and personal. I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself Pagan. My brother and his wife are practicing Catholics, my sister has no proclaimed religion, my other brother is an atheist and my parents are non-Church-going Catholics (but still have all the basic beliefs of the church).

The point is, I realize that Christmas is a Christian holiday, but I feel ok celebrating it because it's also such a big part of my family, my childhood and my (our) culture. On the other hand, I would feel ridiculous celebrating Hanukkah because I don't really understand it and it's not part of my belief system. I would only celebrate it if I were invited by a Jewish friend who felt the need to share that with me... Maybe I'm rambling, but I hope you get the point.

How do you feel about celebrating holidays that aren't actually part of your religion? How do you feel when others celebrate one of your holidays if they ever do?

Virtues: Judgment

Judgment: Is it a virtue in your faith? How does it function as a virtue? Why do you think it is or is not a virtue? What does a virtuous person do with respect to Judgment? How does it make one holier or a better person?

Judgment is part of the "Wisdom and Knowledge" group.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Role of Courtesy?

In the light of the holiday season upon us, leading to all kinds of horror stories about being sacrificed upon the altar of family obligations at this time of year and the terrible things our relatives and loved ones inflict upon one another in the name of family celebrations...

How many of you have witnessed religious groups and organizations, by which I mean, study groups, covens, groves, circles or committees such as put on public events like Pagan Pride Day or festivals, destroyed because people simply have bad manners? How many witch wars might have been avoided and friendships salvaged by the simple use of courtesy?

And why do so many people think that courtesy is unnecessary when one is interacting with family and close friends? To my mind, courtesy is more important among those we love: out of love, itself, and affection for the person, as well as out of sheer practicality: we have to live with family and interact with them all our lives. Manners and politeness, sheer courtesy, can make that required contact much more tolerable for everyone. And it is hardly fair to count on others being willing to forgive one's discourtesy out of love. Out of respect for the relationship one should strive to never need forgiveness from family. One will not always succeed; we are only human, after all, but we should try.

Or is this a pipe dream? Should I put away my reading glasses because the lenses are gone pink...?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Universalized Beliefs

Most of the people I've come across in the Cauldron are polytheists, and I find that there's a tendency for them to say that their beliefs only apply to them and their gods, not necessarily to anyone else.

But does your path have beliefs which you think apply to others as well, regardless of what they believe? (For example, you might believe that reincarnation happens to everyone.)

How do you feel about other people's beliefs that they claim are true for you too? How do you deal with them?

I ask because, since I worship an omniomnifoofoo god (thank you Darkhawk), I wonder if anyone ever gets offended that my beliefs tend to be universalised and hence include them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Getting In Tune With Nature?

Looking at my life in general, I feel that my connection to nature has been somewhat decreased by living modern society. I was just hopping that someone could suggest a few "exercises" to get back "in tune". Meditations, energy exercises or the like?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Representing Paganism

I have a question for all of the pagans out there. Paganism isn't exaclty the most accepted religion out there, right now. We all know that. Were facing a whole bunch of promblems because of this. So I have to ask you, in light of this, How do you think we should represent our religion?

Alot of pagans dress 'goth' or are just 'off' in some way or another. We just never seem to be 'normal'. I'm not saying that's wrong and I agree it's fun to dress 'goth'. Alot of the things most pagans wear, are freakin awesome. However, you have to think about how that looks to the outside world...

Alot of the time, when paganism is mentioned in the media, we are potrayed as 'different' and out there. This isn't really helping our case to becoming closer to the mainstream or at least more accepted... So what should we do?

I'm all for freedom of expression and everything. It's just, should we consider changing ourselves (making ourselves a little more normal), so that we can gain the benifits, that comes with fitting in?

The rest of the world isn't going to come to us. So should we change- just a little?

And if so, what should we change?

If not, what can we do, to become more accepted?

Should we be more accepted?

Have you done anything, personally to make Paganism more accepted?

What If the Gods Never "Find" Me?

I'm afraid I won't ever get that special bond with the higher beings.

I feel that there's something wrong with me, that I'm not special enough, because when I try to pray and talk to a deity it feels like I'm screaming into a big void... I feel so alone...

What do I do? How do get in contact? Or how do you make it easiest for them to come into contact with you? I know I can't MAKE them do anything, but is there any hope if I change myself and the way I live?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things I Will Never Die From...

My mom has started a list of things she will never die from. It is pretty funny, and includes things like:

I will never die from my bungee cord failing.

I will never die of drowning from falling off my yacht.

I will never be trampled by my rabid paparazzi following.

What are some things you will never die from?

Role of Belief in Magic

Do you think belief has any role in magic, and if so, what is that role? For example, is belief a crucial component, or simply icing on the cake, or not useful at all?

If belief has a role to play, whose belief does it have to be: the practitioner's, the target's, both, neither, Other? Does it matter if the subject is inanimate?

And belief in what, exactly -- yourself, your spell, your gods...?

If belief is indeed a criterion placed on something, for example magic, does that somehow make that thing less 'real'? Take a psychosomatic disorder, for example, where the body gets ill because the mind is deluded about something. Is that disturbance somehow not 'real'?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Increasing Subtle Energy Sensitivity?

I was wondering if any one has any tips or exercises i could do to increase my sensitivity of the more subtle energies and entities?

Personalities, With or Without Cults

How important are individual religious leaders to your religious path?

Is there a tradition founder, a guru, someone with particular contact with the gods, or something similar that you have to deal with? Do you know that individual personally? (Shadow, stop laughing.) Do you believe that person is due some particular reverence because of their status as founder or whatever?

Are there people in any of your religious organisations who are particularly significant? (High priest/ess, perhaps?) What difference does their status make?

Do you think there is a problem in your path with people behaving inappropriately towards Big Name whoevers? Is this likely to show up with overfamiliarity, lack of granting adequate respect for seniority, bowing and scraping?

How do you judge when someone's individual persona is doing its job as a religious leader and when it's leading to inappropriate relationships or causing problems in the religious community?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Special Places Outside Your Path

Are there any places you find 'special', or which give you a certain 'energy' or 'vibe', but aren't in your path?

If so, what kind of feelings do they cause?

How do these places compare with ones your path deems special?

Are there places which lots of other people find 'special' which you just don't get?

Chi Machines?

What is a Chi Machine? I was sitting at a stop light, and a place call The Relaxation Station offered oxygen, dry water massage (???), and a chi machine among other things. I know what chi is - I do reiki - but I am mystified.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Climate Opposite What Your Religion Honors?

My whole life I lived in the Northern half of the US , mostly Massachusetts however recently I moved to Florida and as I am sure you know it's pretty much summer or spring here year round. While preparing for Samhain this past season it occurred to me that in Florida our Harvest season is the complete opposite of what is celebrated in paganism particularly Celtic (which is the path I am more than likely heading towards). So I was wondering if any of you have come across this issue and if so how do you deal with it? The time of year to celebrate a Harvest it the time of year to begin planting our seeds, this tends to make it hard to honor something that you are not practicing. Anyone?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Parenthood and Religion

Did you find that your religious practice had to change much, either during pregnancy or after birth? What kinds of issues came up that you hadn't thought about? (I'm specifically thinking of someone mentioning that they didn't want to burn incense with a baby around, which made me go, "Oh. I hadn't thought of that." That kind of thing.) What kind of changes and substitutions (and additions?) did you have to make? What was the easiest, and what was the hardest?

Monday, November 13, 2006

"God-Given" Attributes

I was driving home from work this evening, listening to the radio, and there was a clip of a speech President Bush made at today's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Martin Luther King Jr memorial in Washington.

Bush said something about children's "god-given potential."

The phrase struck me for some reason. Of course I've heard it before, but I guess I've never *really* thought about it. It made me wonder what people here think about the gods' role in the creation of human life.

Do you believe your god/dess(s) created you?

Do you believe he/she/they deliberately caused you to have certain attributes?

Or do you believe you came to be and *then* developed a relationship with your deity, who had nothing to do with your creation?

Or something else?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Do Neo-Pagan Religions Have Much in Common?

Do you agree or disagree with this statement: Neo-pagan religions have much in common? Why or why not?

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Student Curriculum

I come across a particular subject here at TC quite regularly, and it always makes me think. People mention that their new students undergo some training and classes when they join the group, but the subject of those classes is rarely broached. I've never been anywhere near an informed teaching group, and this question has been rattling around in my brain for awhile: what exactly are you teaching?

Well, not *exactly*, but what subjects do you touch on? Meditation? Herbalism? Astral projection? I'm really curious. What subjects does a new student of your path study?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reality or Ideology?

When your ideology (religious or otherwise) doesn't work with reality, what do you do? Do you bend your ideology? Try to make reality bend to you? Accept that they have nothing in common with each other?

If your religion says the world is happy, for example, what do you do with the parts that aren't? If gods are loving, what do you do when life just isn't?

How do you match them?

Do The Gods Love Us?

Most people who believe in gods seem to have a pretty firm conviction that these same gods love us. Or some of us. Or the right us. I find myself wondering where that conviction comes from. Is it just that, with such larger, more powerful, beings to deal with this assumption of love is the only thing that keeps us from running in fear or trying to come up with ways to fight/destroy them?

Is it that they/their prophets say so?

Is it that they created us? (for those of us who believe they did - after all, parents usually love their children)

On the flip side, what is the evidence for indifference or enmity from these beings? How many fire bringers (Prometheus, Coyote) were punished for helping us keep from freezing to death. How many knowledge bringers (the snake in Eden, others I'm not aware of or can't think of at the moment) are reviled for making us more god-like by giving us understanding the creators didn't?

In terms of happy, fulfilling, lives, who is better off - the ones the gods leave alone or the ones they pay attention to?

I'm not doubting their existence, mind you. I'm a firm (sometimes) hard polytheist. I do doubt their benevolence and their motives.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Every now and then, we end up discussing whether or not we have the right to judge. There are some portions of the Pagan 'community' that assert that we don't have the right to judge others. Sometimes this is phrased as 'so long as they aren't hurting anyone else, who are we to judge?'

Do you believe that you have a right to judge others? Why, or why not? Do you base this on theology, common sense, or some other basis for your approach?

If you believe that it's a variable issue (It's ok to judge when X, but not when Y), what effects whether you feel it is right to judge an issue?

That Sense of Homecoming

So I was thinking about why I settled down where I wound up (partly as a result of MUX conversation yesterday).

When I settled in Egyptian recon, what got me there was the worldview, the cultural philosophy -- there was a huge stash of stuff that I'd been fumbling towards words to articulate for most of my life, and it was all there, and I could explore it. (If anything, the gods came after that, and I have no idea whether They nurtured these ideas in me until I found that home and Them, or if They accepted me because I already thought in the right way.)

So I'm wondering: for those of you who have settled on a path, at least for now, what gave you the sense that you were in the right place? Were you surprised by what it was?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Habits in Religious Practice?

I recently got thwapped for approaching my rituals as a habit, or worse, only performing them because I felt I *should* (but, you know, I'd really rather be reading this novel right now ...) My gods don't seem to want a ritual by rote. I can't blame them. I probably needed to be told this, because I am normally very much a creature of habit. So much so that I need to consciously think to deviate from my established pattern. Just wondering, what are your (and your gods') thoughts on habits as they relate to religious practice?

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Wiccan Creation Myth - Missing?

Creation stories are a part of many religions, ancient and contemporary. Some of them begin with the birth of the Gods; others start with the creation of the world/universe. Some are quite detailed, others are vague, and sometimes there are several creation stories which originate within the same culture. Sometimes it is essential to establish the dominance of a God/Goddess over certain aspects of the world, or to assert claims of "One true religion" (as in, "Our God has created everything so he has the final word...").

I'm not saying that a creation story is needed. There are religions and philosophies in which a creation story is somewhat irrelevant (as in Tibetan Buddhism), other that no creation story is known to survive (such as a Celtic creation story).

I haven't found a Wiccan creation story either. Yes, there is Cunningham's short story of "The One" from Which the Goddess and God were created from (as presented in "Wicca - a guide to the solitary practitioner). Others use Starhawk's creation story as appears in "The Spiral Dance" - Those were published as their personal views on the subject of creation and are not necessarily Wiccan.

Other Wiccans may just remark on the scientific creation story (the "Big Bang" theory being the most accepted). I do not see it as a contradiction. My opinion is that creation stories are allegorical and have other truths (mystical by nature) to confer.

So why doesn't Wicca have one? Some answers I thought of:

1) There is a creation story, yet it is oathbound and therefore isn't shared with non-BTW Wiccans.

2) As Wicca draws bits and pieces from local English beliefs, and Celtic beliefs among them - and there is no Celtic creation story known today (if there ever was one).

3) A creation story is simply insignificant.

4) The lack of a creation story is significant.


1) It might be so. It also might be that the initiation ordeal, or the myth of the descent of the Goddess, reveals such a creational story.

2) Wicca is not overtly Celtic, and draws from many sources. Gardner could have easliy used another creation story, as do many Wiccans today.

3) This might be the case, and it also connects with 4:

4) Given the cyclic nature of Wiccan belief - as expressed in the observation of the Lunar and Solar cycles, the myth of the descent of the Goddess and the death and rebirth of the God (and within it the Holly King Vs. the Oak King myth) ?I presume that a creation story, which states a certain ?Ultimate Beginning? (which also gives rise to the notion of ?Ultimate Ending? or one and final ?Apocalypse?) is not only unnecessary ? it?s counter productive and stands against the central theme of Death & Rebirth which is a core belief in Wicca and Wiccan practices.

I can not say for sure whether my fourth assumption (the one which I endorse the most) is correct in a way that a lack of a creation story was intentional or not. Maybe it is due to ?neglect? that there is no creation story to Wicca. Even if it is the case, and this lack is not intentional, I myself think it is for the best, for so we can truly adhere to the cyclic principle.

I'd like to read your take on this subject.

Community Prejudice

Hi everyone. I was wondering about the sort of reaction you get from your community about Paganism. Are there others in your area?

I live in a reasonably small, CONSERVATIVE town. The first question asked when you meet someone is: "What is your name? What church do you go to?" I have never met a non-Christian here. I have pet chickens and goats, and I actually, seriously, got a lecture from a TOTAL STRANGER at the feed store, about why the "good lord" wanted me to eat my goats. This guy didn't know I was a vegetarian, or a pagan, just that I had pet goats.

Anyone in the same boat?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Element/Direction Correspondences?

For those of you who use element/direction correspondences:

I was talking to an eclectic friend of mine about the directions for different elements when casting a circle. I use the earth-north, air-east, fire-south, water-west system. However, he suggested that it might be appropriate to change the correspondences depending on local geography. His reasoning (which I'm not sure of historically), is that those correspondences come from western Europe, where the sea is to the west in most places, the Sun is predominantly in the south, etc.

He suggests that where we are, on the east coast of the US, he would use water in the east (for the ocean) and air in the west. From that it also follows that perhaps someone in the southern hemisphere might swap earth and fire because the Sun is predominantly in the north (or toward the equator).

Does anyone know of the historical reasoning behind the element/direction system I mentioned above, and if you have heard of anyone else who alters it based on local geography?

Monday, October 30, 2006

As 'goblins' knock, evangelicals answer the door

Remember when fundie churches were having to everything they could to avoid participating in the "evils" Halloween Trick or Treating. It seems they have changed their minds. Many now welcome trick or treaters to their door to hand out tracts.

Quote from the article in The Christian Science Monitor: "Buoying tract sales, observers say, is a rising tide of evangelical passion for Halloween rituals. Four years ago in Frisco, Texas, for instance, most churches either shunned the holiday as a perceived festival of mischief or staged their own alternative event. This year, at least 11 congregations are equipping members with tracts for doorbell-answering adults and trick-or-treating kids to hand out."

The article suggests that people are giving candy and a tract. That would not have bothered me when I was a kid, but a tract alone sure would have.

Of course, what I really want to know is would the people trying to convert other people's kids with these tracts do if they heard Satanists were handing out tracts with candy?

Strength in Unity?

It seems so often that organized religions are able to present a unified front. They are, or seem, able, despite local differences, to unite under "God's love" or "the spirit of Jesus" or "Brotherhood in Christ" or "In His Service" etc....

Would you consider this type of action a service or disservice to the Pagan community?

Is isolation our strength or not?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Samhain Celebrations

If Samhain is something you celebrate, how are you (or did you -- if you reading this after Samhain) celebrate this year?

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Myths?

Do you think new religions need new myths? Do you create myths?

What makes something a myth and not just a story? What myths do religions need?

The Gods in Hellenismos?

So I've been reading this book in the library called "Ancient Greek Religion" by...his last name is Mikalson. I found the discussion about the difference between Gods in the daily cult and Gods in literature very interesting. One point he makes (or I'm pretty sure he does, I may have misunderstood) is that the Greeks would have recognized a pan-Hellenic God named Poseidon, but they would have worshipped their local "version" of him, such as Poseidon Soter of Sunium (the example he uses). Along with this he talks about local hero/heroine cults that wouldn't have been worshipped outside of their local area/city-state.

What I was wondering about all of this is whether there is any analogous concept in modern Hellenismos? If so, is it practiced? From most websites I've browsed through, many modern Hellenes (Hellenists? Not sure which is proper) seem to worship the more pan-Hellenic idea of the Greek Gods. I see this as totally understandable considering the position many Reconstructionist Religions currently find themselves in; but is there belief/practice in place where such a system as the original Greeks had could develop? With this question I have in mind the subject of how the Gods were localized that the author explains, that basically being that local Greeks would attribute a title to a particular God because of real events that they felt the God had a hand in, which would then develop into a localized cult of the God.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fairy Beliefs?

I've been reading about Fairies and one of the things they suggest is proper attitude through mediation and attitude, which I've been studying for many years.

The book I have is "Fairy Magic" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. And, it suggest that at times we can see Fairies.
How do we know when we are being visited, or need immediate mental help?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cauldron Pumpkin Carving Contest

This thread is where you can post your pictures to be entered into the Pumpkin Carving / Decoration contest.

Just enter your picture(s) here, (of this years pictures) and let us know what category(ies) you are entering for.

The categories are as follows:

1. Spooky Carved.
2. Gruesome Carved.
3. Humorous Carved.
4. Festive Carved.
5. Spooky Decorated.
6. Gruesome Decorated.
7. Humorous Decorated.
8. Festive Decorated.

You will need to let us know when you post what category(ies) you are entering which picture(s) in. Multiple entries are welcome. The thread to post your pictures will be open for posting until November 1st for those who carve on Halloween day.

Each category will be voted on for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place win. As a bonus LyricFox and I have worked it out to where there will be a "Best of Show" winner as well. The "Best of Show" winner will receive a choice of 1 book, shipping included, from Doxy?s Bazaar.

Good luck to All and lets see some great pumpkins.

Information on Vodoun?

I am seeking information on Vodoun. The only information I have gotten so far is from a couple of specials on T.V. but I'm still looking for good information, which is hard to find online. Any and all book and sites refuring to the history and practise of Vodun would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Types of Initiation

In reading conversations on TC and other forums, and in engaging in such conversations IRL, I have noticed two distinct attitudes towards initiation.

One, somewhat more common among younger people and solitaries, is that initiation is simply an introductory ritual, where one meets the gods and/or dedicates oneself to their service. I'm not saying it's taken lightly by this group, exactly, but generic initiation rituals are shared and used, and self-initiation is considered not only possible, but deeper and more real, in some ways, than group initiation. It seems to be thought that group initiation is initiation into the group, whereas self initiation is initiation more to the Gods themselves.

Among older pagans, and those in long-standing covens, circles, study groups, etc. initiation is seen rather differently. While the rituals themselves are not usually shared or discussed in detail, the risks and preparations and potential damage a wrongly done or received initiation can cause seem to be considered in a more in-depth manner. Inititation is not just an 'introduction' but a life-changing experience. Certain changes are expected and looked for, and used as a yardstick to measure the success of the ordeal/ritual.

There also seems to be a third viewpoint, somewhere in between, where initiation is required before a person can begin learning, but is not meant to be a formal life-long commitment since, once begun, the student may find that the path is not for them. In this case, it would be the second initiation that would be the more important one, as it is made with actual knowledge, rather than just the desire for knowledge. For this type, it does seem to be initiation into the group that is required rather than anything else, at least for the first one.

I am wondering about the pros and cons of each of these types/views of initation. The reasons behind them, the level of dedication or solemnity involved, what people think is a required standard to consider something a true Initiation, rather than Something Else.

(My path has a Something Else that I'm not remotely prepared to do for a good long time yet, because of the responsibilities and potential problems involved. An onlooker would probably call it an initiation, although a spare, austere, not-very-interesting-looking one. It has to be done completely alone, though, which I think may disqualify it from the term, but I'm not sure if it qualifies in any other way, either. One of the reasons I'm interested in this discussion is because so many Things People Do that I learned about growing up don't have names and I'd kind of like to place them in a larger context.)

What I'd like to learn here is how people view initiation as a whole, how they view the different kinds of initiations people refer to and what the requirements and expectations that surround the different views are. So much of what I, personally, do was just absorbed growing up that I'm finding it fascinating to learn how more structured, thought-out, examined and analysed concepts apply.

"Repurposing" Religious Objects

Do you think it is ever acceptable to "repurpose" religious objects for uses other than which they were originally intended? This might be converting from a sacred to a secular use (e.g. turning a baptismal font into a bird bath), or using them in a different sacred context (e.g. using Sabbath candlesticks on a Wiccan altar).

If it is somtimes acceptable to repurpose, in what circumstances is it acceptable? Should you do any special rituals before changing the use? Does it matter if the object was previously used or purchased new?

Handling Disabilities in Pagan Religions

I dunno that I'm ready, but apparently lots of others are. So, here's the full text of my post that derailed the "Challenges: Greatest Hits" thread over in the social forum.

A certain amount of ranting about the ways disabilities aren't accommodated is permissible, since that can point up specifics. But the main idea is to consider constructive approaches: things we can do to improve our understanding of the challenges involved, things we've done or seen others do to accommodate disability, ideas for things we could do. I put the thread in this folder, rather than "Worship and Ritual" or "Faith in Everyday Life" (or anywhere else) because I'd like to see all aspects of Pagan life addressed.

Very little in the way of resources? Very well, then, let us be the resource. ("You're the voice you're waiting for!")

I'll give folks fair warning: I want eventually to have a section on this subject on my (not yet extant, but I'm working on it) website, and am likely to write an article about it for my LJ (dusty, but when I start posting to it regularly again, I'll let you know where to find it). If you don't want your ideas used, or don't want to be credited by Cauldron alias (either preferring anonymity, or preferring another name), including that info in your post would be handy - I could contact each of you later, but if someone has come up with something really good and has since vanished, that'd be frustrating.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Questions/Theory on "Energy Play" Exercises

I'm reading the "Inner Temple of Witchcraft" book by Christopher Penzack. I'm sort of starting fresh on the Wiccan path after going through some major indecisiveness in the past, and I've decided to start from square one (not that I got much farther previously, regardless.) I think I spent approximately 45 minutes on the energy exercises tonight. I did both of the solo ones; holding ones palms 3 feet apart and moving them together and testing for "sensation" as they draw closer in the form of tingling, temperature change, or repulsion (like opposing magnets)... I felt a little bit of all 3. I also did the same, but when my hands were 6-inches apart, starting to "exhale" energy from my mouth and also from my palms. But I seem to be able to create the same sensation just by mere thought, even without the pageantry of moving my hands around. Part of me thinks that these exercises are centered in getting you to believe the energy exists, and since belief is essential, it therefore empowers you to work magick successfully down the line, by creating an exercise that tricks you into feeling what isn't really physically there, but what was already there all along in a nonphysical sense.

I believe the energy is there but wonder if it is possible for me to feel is through an exercise like this. It is hard for me to differentiate between what is normal "feeling" and what is changed due to the positioning of the hands. I think a lot of it has to do with the mind, for instance, if I so chose, I could tell my mind that my right index finger is feeling cold. And on a half-physical, half-mental, level, I can feel the sensation even though I know that it is not cold. Similar to visualization exercises I've seen in other books. As suggested in books like Scott Cunningham's "Wicca for the Solitary Practicioner," one can mentally place an apple on their desk and "see" it in their mind, but not through their eyes, more of superimposing it in their mind on top of what their eyes see is really there. And yet, such visualization is crucial in certain spells and rites. It's like it's about manipulating the non-physical -- one could hypothesize that such is really "magick" in and of itself, when the end-result is something tangible or visible.

Perhaps the best analogy could be illustrated with food. Let's say I really want pizza, really bad. I know what pizza tastes like. I can generate that taste in my mind and pass it on to my mouth and actually feel the texture and warmth in my mouth and taste the sauce and cheese, in a weird non-physical way. I think that this is how one might experience these "energy play" sensations in regular life, even if one isn't a Wiccan or even interested in anything metaphysical. I think that the "goal" of these energy exercises is to show us that these little "tricks" we've learned to use for mundane things like food can be manipulated and put to work for us in a magickal sense. I think that ultimately, it all ties into the nonphysical (or astral) body tasting something or feeling something even when our physical body can't.

Am I anywhere close to grasping this concept or do I need to keep trying? Thanks for your help!

Friday, October 20, 2006

What Makes a Practice "Legit"?

I have been reading a lot of posts about fluffy this and fluffy that but I know a lot of people who are solitary that have made up what they believe into a practice with or without books pagan/wiccan/or other.

The had a revelation perhaps or something like it. When does a "made up tradition" or practice become legit? If Ima Brightthistle uses a pantheon of made up names (squshi, Kiki, barto, and suvi for example) and celebrates her holidays named after flowers does that make her less legit then say a Gardnerian?

What do you think?

What is "Religious Depth"?

Quote: "and the trad as described on the website doesn't show a lot of depth."

That was from Sunflower's post in the 'Eclectic A Four-Letter Word' thread.

What is religious 'depth'? How would you describe your path in terms of 'depth'?

Does a religion have 'depth' if it covers a wide breadth of human existence by having rules/guidelines for every little thing? Or is 'depth' a matter of underlying philosophy, so that a religion that has very little to say is still 'deep' if has lots of arguments for what it does say?

Does 'depth' imply seriousness? Does that mean something like Discordianism has no 'depth'? What about mysticism? Is that a component of 'depth'?

Or is 'depth' not even applicable to religions, but only to humans (i.e. can we only label human followers as deep or shallow, and not spiritual systems?)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wiccan Afterlife Beliefs?

What do Wiccans think happens after they die?
Summerlands then reincarnation? Straight up reincarnation?

And as a point of that question, what happens to the "bad" people when they die? I don't mean someone that stole a candy bar 30 years ago, heh. But truly bad people, like child rapists and murderers.

I ask because this fiction book I'm reading has the High Priestess saying that when the bad guys {and boy, are they bad!} pass on to the Summerlands, there they will be able to choose their reward, or be punished for their actions.

And yes, it is fiction, but most of the Wiccan stuff he has in the book is pretty spot on {from what this forum has taught me and the books I've read}.

So I thought I'd ask some people that are Wiccan to get the low down on if there is some sort of punishment for these people or if they are just reincarnated straight away...?

Rock of Faith?

(Let me see if I can put this into words) Since I have started along the Pagan path, I keep coming across one question. It seems that many or most of the mainstream religions have hard fast rules concerning morality/ethics; guidellines that can be followed through any, or nearly any, situation.
The upside being not having to make up one's mind during difficult times; the downside being not having to make up one's mind during difficult times.

So, where do Pagans find their rock of faith. Where do y'all find your rock to rest/stand on when difficult times come around?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


What are everyone's thoughts on practicing skyclad?

I don't personally think that it is better, or worse, however I have done it a few times recently (after overcoming my embarassment of being naked) and found that I feel more "magical" than I do in my flannel PJ's and fuzzy socks (of course, a ritual robe would likely have the same effect, but I lack one). I also find, that it's easier to get energy flowing, as the clothing does act as a slight barrier (and the aformentioned fuzzy socks do wonderfully to block some energy flow through my foot chakras)

Of course, practicing skyclad is not very beneficial outside in an area where the ritual is likely to be observed by outsiders, or during extremely cold weather. It does work just fine indoors with the heat on (remembering to shut the blinds if you are in town LOL).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Scarce Occult/New Age Stores?

My question is that does it seem to everyone here that Occult stores seem to becoming scarce these days & everyone is buying their supplies off the Internet? Is it pressure from communities or the idea that you can get what you need cheaper from in-line sources?

Religious Schools?

A lot of people agree that our schools are not they should be, that our kids are well behind the rest of the world.

Knowing this would you let your child go to a say Catholic school for example -- knowing that he or she could get a better education?

We don't have kids yet but here the school system sucks in South Carolina. I don't think I'd mind if I knew for certain that they would not teach our kids Biblical teachings.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Morals without Religion?

I have had a number of philosophical conversations with one of my teachers, I have great respect for his views, though there are very few of them that I agree with. One particular subject that keeps coming up is whether it is possible to have morals without religion. He feels that morals must be based on a religious structure, or belief in a god, I feel that morals are an inate part of each human being, and something that you do not need a god to get you to follow. I simply can't follow his ideas on this subject, and was wondering about other peoples views on this subject. This has kind of seperated from my conversations with him and I am simply wondering about other peoples views.

The Haunted Month

OK. So it's October. The Halloween month. I suppose I also need to give a nod to the Wheel folks who have a new year coming up.

So what are your traditions for the month? Anything that you do that's special? Either with or without the kids and with or without religious overtones?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Changed Most in Your Life Because of Your Path?

I was going to make this a poll, but there are SO many variables that apply, so, decided to discuss instead!

Since most of the folks here came to the path due to choice/chance and not because it was a family thing (i.e., you weren't raised in your particular path), I was wondering what aspects of your life have been most affected by taking the faith-path you are on?

Benefits of Self-Made vs. Established Religion

I know that many of you follow paths that you have more or less constructed on your own, and many of you follow belief systems from established religions.

What do you think are some benefits or drawbacks of each? For example, I think that the structure of an established religion sometimes forces you to examine ideas and spiritual "muscles" that you would never use if left to your own devices. It is sort of like how writing a sonnet paradoxically forces you to be more creative than if you write in free verse.

Virtuous in Itself?

A question prompted by the virtues threads over in Faith in Everyday Life: are there intrinsic virtues, qualities that are virtuous in and of themselves?

In the discussions so far about curiosity and love of learning are suggestions that these are virtues because they have beneficial consequences, for instance preventing stagnation, facilitating communion (and vice versa: curiosity might not be a virtue if it leads to breaching privacy, for example.) Others seem to lean towards them being virtuous because they just are. Are there perhaps different classes of virtue, intrinsic and consequentualist? Maybe virtues are virtues because God/s deem them to be so, or on some other grounds that escape me entirely?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Message Board Back Up

Bob discovered sites were down and managed to fix the server. Fortunately, all it required was restarting the web server process. The Cauldron's message board (and those of our sister forums) are back up. Our apologies for the inconvenience. Go forth and fill the board with posts!

Message Board Down

The server our message board is on seems to have died about 7:30am CDT this morning. Normally, Bob fixes these things pretty fast, but he's having a busy weekend and may not even see there's a problem (or be any place he can fix it) for a good while. If so, we will open our backup message board this afternoon. Our sister forums, Asatru Lore and Ta Hiera, are also down as they are on the same server.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Faith and Sex

Got to thinking about the different areas of our lives impacted by the faith-path we wander down as individuals...

I decided to start with a primal Most of us do it...or want to. But what does your path say about it?

Is it okay to be gay in your path or sexually active and not married? Is masturbation a big no-no, or does your path recognize the positive or ritual/magical uses of self-stimulation. Would your path frown on your particular "kink"? Does your path and your sexuality have almost no connection at all?

Virtues: Love of Learning

Love of Learning: Is it a virtue in your faith? How does it function as a virtue? Why do you think it is or is not a virtue? What does a virtuous person do with respect to Love of Learning? How does it make one holier or a better person?

Love of Learning is part of the "Wisdom and Knowledge" group.

Making Magical Oils

I've read several recipes/web pages on making oils, and I noticed most call for grapeseed oil or almond oil to use as a base.

I don't really have access to those; we don't stock them in the house, and I'd rather not be asked why I want such-and-such oil come grocery day. Does anyone know if olive oil would make a good base oil? We have that in abundance. I have yet to find any receipes that mention using it as a substitute, but nothing I've read so far says you can't, either. I just don't want to try to make an infused oil and have it turn out smelling rancid or anything if I can avoid it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Magic and Morality: Conventional or Otherwise?

Generally speaking, I usually see a consensus on this board that the same morality applies to 'mundane' actions as to 'magical' actions. However, I would like to question whether being capable of performing magical operations or, if you believe that you are more aware of new aspects of reality etc, whether being aware of new facets of existence change your outlook on life and morality?

Does having more power than others (however little the difference is) require or suggest a different morality to what is conventional? Has your morality changed since adopting a new path? [Yes, I'm assuming magical practice in this thread, but if you feel that your religious path is appropriate to this discussion, join in anyway!]

Are the rules different for magical practitioners? Should they be? If you don't believe in shoulds or should nots, what influences might you expect to alter someone's morality as a result of practicng magic?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Conversion Requirements?

Since my brother and his son got baptised on sunday I've been thinking about the conversion process and got to wondering:

If someone wants to join your religion, what are the requirements, both formal and informal?

Higher Self/Higher Genius?

In some paths/ magical traditions, etc, there is a notion of a 'higher self' or 'higher genius.' That is an idealised form to which you aspire, and try to become more like/ transform yourself into.

Do you/ does your path/ tradition include this concept? How important is it to you personally? And have you developed practices in order to develop a union with your higher self?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Makes a God?

There's a quiz that was posted on the social forum, and I think I've seen it a few other places, that rates gods. It's a severely flawed quiz, and it seems to use the omni-omni-omni style of defining a god.

Mine don't pass, but that doesn't make them any less gods to me. It is obvious, therefore, that I have different criteria for what makes a god a god.

For example, Old Dog doesn't know everything. (He thinks he does, but that's a different matter entirely) He isn't everywhere at once - sure, he can be a lot of places, or at least seem to, but even in legends he needs travel time. He gets things done, but he's definitely not omnipotent. He uses trickery and persuasion, he steals things when he needs them, he pretends to be other beings to get their followers co-operation. He lies.

Omnibenevolent? Forget it. He's not even always benevolent towards me, and I'm his. (or at least I assume I am, since he won't leave)

So, in this quiz he fails bigtime. BUT. He knows more than me. He is more powerful than me. And in the end, in spite of his trickeries, etc. he is more moral than me. So, he is a god. Not a deep, mysterious one, like my Ladies, but he has his mysteries too. It's enough. When I try to wrap my head around anything bigger, I get dizzy.

My question is: What sets our gods apart? What makes them Gods? We can almost all tell the difference when we encounter a god as opposed to when we encounter other sorts of beings. Where does the difference lie? Is it power? Sphere of influence? I can accept that some people would view Old Dog as an animal spirit rather than a deity, but since humans are more his concern than other animals I place him in the god category. Anthropocentric of me, I know.

So. Rate your gods. List your criteria. Give your reasons. It's okay if you don't have any. UPG is perfectly acceptable. But if this quiz is severely flawed, I'm wondering what would have made it better.

And just to throw a cat among the pigeons, what would take them off the god-rung of the entity ladder?

Secular Christmas?

I know that a lot of folks here celebrate Christmas, and obviously, most of you are not Christian. Some folks say this is because they are polytheists and recognize all gods.

Others say that they just celebrate the "secular" aspects of Christmas. What do you consider the "secular" aspects of Christmas, and why? Obviously, some things are definitely religious (like a creche). But what about gift-giving? A lot of folks consider that to be an imitation of the gifts of the wise men.

Let me know what you think.

Review: Wicca Unveiled

The subtitle of this book is just a bit pretentious (in my opinion). Had it included the word 'Basic' in there, I certainly couldn't object. And then the copywriter got into the act with (on the back cover) 'The First Comprehensive Guide to Working the Rituals of Wiccan Magic.' Puh-leeze. Replace 'The First' with 'A' and, once again, I would have no objection, but as it stands.

Review: A Seeker's Journey and Initiation into Wicca

This is one person's account of her journey from an inquisitive pre-teen in the '80s through experiences and questions; doubts and self-assurance; and all the myriad events that make up the life-changing course many people go through. It is not a great book. It is, however, an excellent book.

Review: The Inner Temple of Magick

I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this book and, as I got started reading it, I still wasn't sure what I had gotten. Mr. Cooper's approach to magick is uniquely his own, as is his perception of life and its journey. I am not sure, even now, how much I agree with his premise and conclusions. Which is not to say that I disagree with this book, but rather that I haven't made a final decision regarding it.

Review: Garden Witchery

This interesting little book by Ellen Dugan is targeted at a rather specific group...Wiccan/Pagan gardeners. So, while it wouldn't necessarily have a Wide appeal, it is an informative, entertaining read within that category. The cover art is very appropriate and restful and at a slim 243 pages it is an easy read. Let's take a look inside, shall we?

Talking to the Press About Pagan Religions

How does one talk to the press without being an ass, especially since the media tends to sensationalize things seen as out of the mainstream out where I live (Palm Springs area, California).

I'm not sure what to say beyond the fact that we're American citizens who just happen to be Pagan.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Astral Travel

I am really interested in astral travel, and was wondering what people think of the subject, what limitations are, etc.

New Home Cleansing Rituals?

My husband and I are moving soon (again). Besides burning sage, which I hear is quite stinky, are there any cleansing rituals I can carry out on the new place?

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