Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dancing the Tree of Life

Dancing up the tree... Or down the tree? Which tree doth I speak about? The Kabalah tree!

From the sephorath, they are numbered from Kether on down but it was suggested to me to start from Malkuth and go on up. I was wondering if just trying to figure were you are (I think I bounce between Chesed and Gevurah) and work on from there.

I'm just wondering for ya'll's that have path worked the tree, why is it suggested to start at the bottom and work your way up.

Faith and Therapy

As some of you may know, I'm a psychology student, currently doing an internship. As part of my internship, I'm doing a little project concerning religion and therapy. I know there are horror stories to be told about psychiatrists and psychologists completely dismissing religion, or even considering them delusional. I, on the other hand, figure it's a source of strength, and as such, should not only be respected in therapy, but might even be something I can "use" to help someone. So I've a few questions:

1) To what extent would you expect a therapist to take your religion into account?

2) Are there any taboos or such in your religion that your therapist should consider? Are there certain types of treatment that would be right out for you, for example? How would you expect a therapist to deal with that?

3) What are the strengths of religion that you think could help you when in a situation that requires therapy? Do you consider them any of your therapist's business?

4) Have you met or heard of therapists who got this totally wrong? What did they do that was so wrong? What are the things I want to avoid?

I'm really looking for any kind of information here, so feel free to brainstorm, go off on tangents, etc.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Following Nameless Gods

It seems there's a few of us around here that are following nameless and/or previously unknown deities. Besides me, Jenett and Tana, are there any more of you out there?

How did you know your deity wasn't any of the traditional Gods?

What makes Him or Her unique?

Do you worship in the framework of an established tradition or do They request something entirely new?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

'Secular' Quotes/Songs/Books in Your Faith

hew! Now that title's a bit of a mouthful! I didn't quite know what to call this, but hopefully that monster did the trick.

My question for this topic is whether or not you have 'secular' (ie, not purposefully pagan; things like Mists of Avalon, etc, still count) quotes, songs, books, poems, etc that are important to you in your faith. They don't have to be a major part of it, but maybe they are; or maybe they just explain part of your faith, or are used in your rituals, or just resonate strongly with you.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Did The Gods Mellow?

My slight acquaintance with classical mythology suggests the gods visited fairly stern punishments on those who disobeyed or otherwise got on the wrong side of them. Yet I get the impression that most of those here who do look to deities don't go in fear of their patrons.

If you believe in/look to/worship a deity or deities do they have an established mythos? If so, were they always benevolent towards their devotees or was there a risk of incurring divine displeasure with fearsome consequences? Is that still the case and if not, what changed? Did the gods mellow? Did the ancients attribute misfortune to them that was none of their doing? Has their power simply waned while their worship was eclipsed by Christianity? Something else entirely?

Prison Ministry

My coven is considering becoming involved in doing prison ministry and I was wondering whether anyone here had done it and had any advice as to how to make contacts, get started, etc.

My biggest concern, and one we're going to be talking at length about is the fact that this will be a long term committment to this. The group cannot simply decide 6 months down the way that they've lost interest...and that has been a problem in the past. But since one of the goals of our Trad is the preparation of Wiccan clergy, I think this would be a very good exercise in living up to our training, making better priests and priestesses of us all, and serving a very needy population.

All thoughts are most welcome.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Message Board Was Down Overnight

Our message board server, or perhaps the part of the Internet it is connected to, went down sometime over night (Texas time). It looks to back up as of around 9:30am (Texas time). Our apologies for the downtime.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Taking On Your Deity's Personality Traits?

How many of you, when working with a particular diety or spirit, start taking on bits and pieces of their personality? Or some of their quarks?

The only "Gods" (spirits, really) I've worked with are Loa and the Orisha; and two in particular, Papa Samdi and Yemaja. As I am slowly switching my focus from Samdi to Yemaja, I've noticed the traits I recieved from Samdi (the loud, obnoxious, drunk side) has lessons greatly while certain feminine traits from Yemaja have reared their ugly head.

So, I'm just wondering if their works with the other pantheons out there. I hear this is very common in Loa and Orisha, who are though to sit in your head and thus their influences are always there. I've never really heard of it from other pantheons, except from people who've drawn down and didn't get it out of them fully.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Restricting Out Of Respect?

Have you ever restricted yourself from following a religion or spiritual path out of respect for the culture and/or path? Should someone be conscenious of the paths they take based on the wishes of that culture, your own gender/ culture/ etc, or what society thinks as a whole?

Free Will?

'm currently trying to develop my ideas as a Stoic and I've been thinking a lot about the issue of free will and personal responsibility. My personal belief is that very little of what happens to us is under our control. Even on an entirely materialist view, we are just one cause amongst an infinite number in the universe. The Stoic argument is that everything in the universe is caused (or the world would be entirely unintelligible), and therefore that everything that happens is an inevitable result of its causes. Everything that occurs is therefore fated and inevitable.

While I agree with this argument to some extent, I have found that it reaches uncomfortable conclusions if pushed to its logical extremes. On a modern view, our thought processes are physical, a result of the firing of neurons in the brain. As a physical process, thought is a result of its causes... and therefore inevitable. Thus, we have no control over what we think.

At this point I had to give up my contemplation, as it literally hurt my head to think that I might not be in control of my thoughts. It felt like one step away from madness.

To help me develop my ideas, I was wondering what other people's views are on free will and personal responsibilty? What are the philosophical/psychological arguments that back up your beliefs? I know this is a HUGE topic, and if it needs to be narrowed down, I am particularly interested in how far we are in control of what goes on in our own heads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Teaching an Eclectic Pagan Path

As an eclectic pagan, how do you feel about teaching your unique path to someone else? Is it one of those things that will only ever be right for you? Would you ever go looking for students, or would it be better for them to approach you? Would you even know where to start? And of course, if you taught, would they be allowed the same level of flexibility that you had in choosing your path, or would they have to follow the rules you created?

Drastic Changes in Pantheons or Deities?

Have you ever DRASTICALLY changed pantheons/deities? Did you decide or was it a thwapping that brought on the change? Was it a temporary change or a permanent one?

Pagan Group Membership?

Are you solitary -- or are you a member of a coven, grove, or other type of Pagan religious group?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Daily Practices

What are your daily religious or spiritual practices? Do you have daily practices - or is it weekly/monthly? How do you feel if you don't get a chance to do whatever it is?

Is Initiation Forever?

The tradition in which I was trained and in which I continue to practice teaches that because an initiation, if done properly, is a life-changing experience, we as a tradtion cannot undo an initiation once it had been given. We cannot take away from that person the experiences which he or she has undergone, so we can't revoke an initiation. The best that we can do is to revoke someone's right to act and style themselves as a priest or priestess of our tradition.

But recently, I've seen some things happening that suggest to me that even if we cannot revoke an initiation, the person to whom it was given CAN walk away from it.

I'll discuss some things that relate to this in more detail later, if it seems necessary. For the moment I'm interested in people's initial reactions to the question.

The Power of Words

What do words mean in your religion? do they hold power, or are they simply a method of communication? does the language used matter?

What do false words mean in your religion?

Friday, February 17, 2006

About Our New Board

The Cauldron has new message board, located athttp://www.ecauldron.net/mb/. We apologize for the problems this move will cause our members, but Bob's new server ran the 0.6 branch of the Beehive Forums software (the code that that runs our board) very slowly. Testing showed that the old 0.5 branch was much faster. Unfortunately, there is no way to turn a 0.6 branch board into a 0.5 branch board, so we had to start over. Our original board will hopefully re-appear in a read-only format in a week or two so the 180,000+ messages now there will be available for reference.

This means everyone will have to create a new account (if you had an account on our old board, please see "Important Re-Registration Information" below for important instructions), recreate their sig and profile, etc. We apologize, but there was no way to avoid it. However, we have taken advantage of having to restart to reorganize the board. The Cauldron now has two separate forums (TCMAIN and TCSOCIAL) and our folders are split between them.

This gives us room for more folders with less confusion. The social side of TC has benefited from this the most as we now have a number of folders to be social in instead of having to cram everything not a religious dicussion into 3-4 folders.

You can move between the two forums either via the link to the "other" forum in the top (white) bar or via the "Forums" item in the top menu bar. Note that the numbers listed for messages and last visits in the "Forums" item are not always accurate (nor are the numbers the "Stats" panel in the second forum -- found at the bottom of the message pain) due to bugs in the 0.5 branch code that were never fixed by the Beehive team.

Other Major changes:

"Settings" (in the top menu) is where you go to modify your personal settings (nickname, email address, forum options, etc.). This was called "My Controls" in the original board.

"PMs" in the top menu will take you to your PM Inbox where you can read and send personal messages.

"Chat" in the top menu will bring up our Flash Chat area, log in with your message board User ID and password. Note that's your user id, not your nickname.

"Rules" on the top menu will bring up a section with all of our forum and chat rules and some FAQs that might prove helpful

"Extras" on the top menu will bring up a lot of "extra" features, some examples: a links section, information on our MUX (CauldronMUX), etc.

One Request: Messages cannot be moved between forums like they can between folders, so it is important to put discussions in the proper forum. We don't want to be thread nazis, but we will be enforcing this.

Important Re-Registration Information

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you had an account on our old board, you will need to follow this procedure to successfully log in to our new board:

1) Close your browser -- all copies of your browser. Then reopen it.

2) Go to the New Board: (http://www.ecauldron.net/mb/). Note that your username and password will probably be in the logon box. If they are, ignore them as you are not really "there" until you register. Click on the Register link and register -- using the same username and password you use on this board. (Or a completely different username, although this will confuse people -- just don't use the same username as the old board with a different password). Be sure to use a working email address that you get email from.

3) When you finish, you should be logged in (You'll see a top menu with "Logout" instead of "Login" if you are). Log out completely. Try to log back in. You should be able to. If you get some type of "Session" or other weird error, close your browser down, go directly to the new board and try again.

Introduce Yourself!

We've periodically had threads where we all re-introduce ourselves for the benefit of those who are new since the last such thread. It's often a lot of fun, because you can talk to people all day and just totally miss major info about them, and this gives us a chance to fill in the blanks. I thought that perhaps the move to the new forum structure would be a good point at which to do this again.

So -- introduce yourself, even if you've been here forever and think everyone knows you! Who are you, what's your religious outlook, what are your interests, where are you, how long have you been at TC -- tell us as much or as little as you like!

Is There A Philosopher In The House?

Since we haven't had a philosophy folder before I thought I'd raise the question of what constitutes philosophy as distinct from the sorts of things that might go in say "Pagan Religions". Is it subject matter? (But then there is philosophy of religion; to my non-specialist eye the boundary between philosophy and theology seems unclear) Is it methodology, frame of reference, all of the above?

Building Your Own Eclectic Pagan Religion

For those of you who are building your own religions, what was your motivation? Where did you start? How long have you been working, and do you feel like you have a lot left to go?

Divination Tools

If you were forced to choose only one divination tool that you could use for the rest of your life - which would you choose and why? If it is a tarot deck, which deck? If it is runes, which set?

Combining with Christianity

Well, combining with Christianity among other things. I have noticed that some people on these boards (and even more so on others) seem to have a problem with those who combine thier pagan practices with Christian ones.

So what about Voodoo, Santarie, Candomble, etc.? These relgions are combinations of Catholic and African (And sometimes South American Haitian, or Cuban as well!) practices. Hoodoo combines practices from Jewish mysticism, European witchcraft, African witchcraft, and who knows what else! Is this ok? These religions and practices have been around awhile and established themselves firmly, so we don't complain.

But why attack the Christian Wiccan? Perhaps two-hundred years from now this will be a popular religion! What about a Catholic who believes in reincarnation instead of Heaven? Have you ever met a Celtic-Recon who aslo practices Chaos magic? I bet there are a few out there.

My point is this, today's herisies are tomorrows standard practice, if we can accept established "odd-fellow" pairings, then why should the new ones bother us so much?


The discussions of The Odyssey have brought up the subject of xenia. The concept seems, from my understanding of the examples presented and the resulting discussion, to describe the proper relationship between a guest and his host, and seems to include a concept of aiding travellers who come to your door, particularly those seeking aid.

I'm curious about how Hellenic Recons and semi-Recons translate this into a modern practice. I'm curious about the general concept, but also about that "aiding travellers" bit particularly. I remember one time we had a salesman come to the door who had been walking the block all day and was hungry. He asked if he could come in and have a bite. (I was cooking dinner at the time.) Would the concept of xenia say that I should have invited him in? What if the person at the door is just selling stuff for a good cause and doesn't ask for any other aid--are you obligated to buy something from them?

This question came up in my mind because it seems that the ancient Greeks were pretty open with their visitors, and felt fairly safe in relying on the principle of xenia when doing things like inviting a stranger in. Today's world is so different--we're taught to fear strangers who want to come into our homes, and not to trust people we don't know, and things like that. It seems like it would take some doing, or at least some serious adjustment, to be able to practice xenia today in the same sense that the Greeks did.

Gods Named In Everyday Conversation?

Do you use the names of the Gods you're sworn to, worship, or are a patron to you in your conversations outside of a religious setting? Christian incorporate "Praise Jesus" or "Thank God" into their speech. Do you say "Praise Yemaya" or "Thank Apollo" when you're out and about living your "normal" life?

Religion is a Drug?

My gods, I have a pondering to post. And I wasn't sure if this counted as Living One's Faith, so it's here. ;) On another forum (where I serve as an Admin), the comment was made "religion is the opiate of the people", which is so often taken out of context it makes me twitchy. The context of the post isn't that important, but it was clear the reason for the post was to suggest that religion = bad. (The person making that statement stopped posting at all once I pointed out that we don't make blanketing derisive statements about religions - it's a rule and such.)

Another user, seemingly in defense of the other person, posted to the effect that religion *is* a drug, for good or ill.

Now, I don't know about you folks, but I still took exception to that. To me, the effect of a drug is an altered state from one's 'norm' as it were. And I tend to be the same person whether I'm doing something involving my spirituality or not. I know the whole thing about using a drug to acheive higher consciousness and I'm not talking about that. What I'm talking about is the seeming insinuation that religion takes things out of one's control, in a sense.

Am I making any sense? And am I simply seeing red because this person decided to try to undermine my reprimand to another user? What does that statement (religion is a drug) conjure for you?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Practical Magic: Anthropologies

To paraphrase Socraties, "only the mind and soul can comprehend that which cannot be experienced through the senses" so, after we have determined what the universe holds in our "cosmology", we next must determine the nature of the "soul" and how that effects our outlook.

In your belief and practice of magic:

1) What is the nature of your whole being, possibly including your "soul"?

2) What does your soul / astral self / spiritual side / etc. see and experience in the world that your physical self cannot?

3) How does this effect your goals and motivations?

4) What do you want to accomplish in your practice of magic and why?

As in other "Practical Magic" questions, there are no right and wrong answers as long as you give some thought to what you, yourself believe.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tarot Question: The Thoth Deck

I recently became interested in the Tarot. This morning I asked my mother to purchase me the Rider-Waite deck. She went to Barnes & Noble instead of any metaphysical shop. She didn't remember what deck to purchase but saw the name Aliester Crowley. Reconizing this name she purchased the Thoth. I just opened it up and it has cards that are not in the Rider-Waite deck suck as Strife, Oppression, and Princesses. Can anyone tell me the meanings of the extra cards included?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meditation Problem

Yes, I know there are lots of threads on meditation already... but I have a problem that doesn't seem to have been discussed.

I would really like to learn to mediate - both to reduce stress and anger levels, and also as a way to begin some form of ritual practice. However, whenever I have read about a meditation technique, the initial exercises always seem to involve concentrating on your breathing, counting breaths etc. My problem is that if I concentrate on my breathing, it makes me hyperventilate and breathe really fast - which doesn't exactly put me in a relaxed state!

Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone know a way of beginning to learn to meditate which does not involve breathing exercises? If so, I would be really grateful if you could point me in the direction of some books and/or online resources which discuss these techniques.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pagans and Medical Care

What does your religion say about medical care and modern medicine? Does resorting to a doctor mean you're out of favor with the gods, or is it considered the logical thing to do when you're sick? What about medication?

Do you agree with your religion's views on this, or are you heretical? (which way?) Why or why not?

Naming Children

Would you name your child after your causes, be they social, religious or political? There's always the story about the kid who's mom loved Gone With the Wind and named their kid Tara.

Those cases I don't take issue with. It's the parents who choose names that label their children before they even begin. The mom who calls her son Jihad, or her daughter Swastika leave me scratching my head and pitying the kid. Names that carry a heavy social bias. Names that require an explaination for strangers to resolve.

Would you brand your kid with a trademark name?

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Odyssey: Books V to VIII

The Cauldron's discussion of Homer's Odyssey is moving on to the second set of four books, 5 to 8. Find your copy and join us. It's much more interesting than you may remember from high school English class.

What Kind Of Magic Do You Do?

I've seen quite a few threads asking how you think magic works, but I have yet to see one asking what people actually practice. So, what kind of magic do you do?

Why does that particular mode of practice appeal to you? Do you use tools? Physical objects? Mental manipulation? All or none of the above?

What is "Dark"?

In the past we've had threads whre some posters have described certain paths or Gods as being 'dark.' In some instances they have been queried on why they describe certain things as being so. To some this feels like an attack, whatever is meant by the attempts to identify issues for clarification.

I think what some of us might find helpful is to dicuss what we mean by dark. Not what we necessarily think the consensus view is, but to describe the attributes we refer to when we locate certain philosophies, Gods etc as being within 'dark territory.' We may not necessarily reach any agreement, but it may help us to be sympathetic towards other people's way of describing things.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Illuminatus Trilogy

Have you read it? Did you like it? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Have you even heard of it? I'd love to get a discussion going here.

Cartoons Mocking Muhammad?

An international dispute over European newspaper cartoons deemed blasphemous by some Muslims is causing all sorts of trouble in Europe and the Middle East.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Humor: The Speshul World of Wytches and Majyc

In the last six months I have read everything on the top shelf of the New Age and Pagan section of my high school library, even though I really didn't have to because just realizing what I am has given me total enlightenment and all the knowledge I will ever need to have a perfect life and get everything I want and punish anybody who isn't as enlightened as me and tries to persecute me with logic and facts and thinking they are better than me.

Rhyme and Magic

Do you like to rhyme your spells?

Personally, I like to use rhymes. Coming up with good verse, or even good doggerel, helps me focus my brain on what I'm trying to do. When it's a formal spell I feel that putting in the effort and discipline of writing in verse shows that I'm serious about what I'm doing.

Plus, it's fun. I'm not too good at blank verse, but I really like working with rhyme and rhythm. I even like using formal or archaic forms and terms when I'm really into it.

What are The Gods?

I was wondering if the "Gods" were actual beings or are they just representations of beliefs? Lately I have been wondering that alot. It just seems really wierd to pray to something you really aren't that familliar with. But if you don't put a name on it (what ever you are praying to or for) it just makes it so much easier. Is this right or am I just totally off track?

Bad Things Happen, and Happen...

I would guess we've had discussions of this sort before, but, because I'm in the middle of-Life's crap, shall we say, I thought I'd bring it up and get the opinions of anyone who wants to answer, so here goes:

In the words of Rabbi Kushner, why do bad things happen to good people? and keep happening over and over, no matter what one does or doesn't do? I guess I'm talking about over fairly long periods of time, and not just the "bad weeks" that we all have...

How do you cope, if you've ever been in this sort of long term..cycle (it feels to me like a descent, but i'm not real objective at the moment)...

This thread may not make a whole lot of sense, but I don't want to drag my problems out, just because I know several of other TC members are having or have had bad times...Although I just want to say that at the moment, I want to just...throw in the towel...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Imbolc: Roman Style Ritual?

n two days, Imbolc rolls around, and with it, the celebration of the home, hearth, and whatnot.

In two days, I am supposed to have an Imbolc ritual written and be ready to lead said ritual.

Dan, our lovely President of Pagan Moon (A religion tolerance organization at Northern Michigan University) has requested I write a ritual for Imbolc using the Roman pantheon of deities.

My question is, what god or goddess can be associated with this holiday? I have been going through pages of research and the only goddess I can think of is Proserpine (Persephone in Greek mythology) who is trapped with Pluto in the underworld for half a year and one earth the other. The only thing is that I think she could be more associated with Beltaine, or Ostara, and I'm at a loss of what to do.

If anyone could give me a nudge in the right direction, I would be most appreciative.

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