Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hekate Kourotrophos?

Nurse of the Young, or Protector of Children. Epithet might be misspelled. A woman on another message board was asking me about this aspect of Hekate, if I had any info. I thought I might, but I only had a snippet from my own essay more related to the lack of proof that Hekate's knife is related to midwivery at all.

Though I see Kourotrophos on several websites there's little about how the epithet came about. Anyone have any ideas for me?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I have a question for all of you who do divination. Do you do bibliomancy? If so, what books do you use, and how do you use them? Do you flip through for your answers, or do you write passages on blank cards and use them like tarot cards? Have you found bibliomancy to be effective for you?

Ritual Sex and the Cult of Diana

The other night, I caught this documentary on the city of Ephesus. During Roman times, the city had a huge temple to Diana. The documentary stated that followers of her cult would have sex in the temple as part of their offering. Furthermore, I remember reading once that Caligula allegedly was in this cult, and would take part in the same ritual.

My question: Why would Diana be at the center of a cult that involved ritual sex when Diana was always perceived as being chaste? You'd think (at least I would think) that her cult would resemble the Vestals in this regard.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sea Salt and Sandalwood

Been doing some soul searching lately, and due to problems with an ex-high priestess and ex-coven members, find myself questioning a lot of things I've taken for granted. So my new course of study is to find precedents, or documented "proof" if you will, of how certain things that seem to be offered up to be accepted "on faith" actually came into being.

I'll throw the first two out in this post, and post more as I am able to find others.

The first two are sea salt, and sandalwood. My ex-hps swore by these two. In fact, she used sandalwood oil in sea salt for everything from ritual baths to cleansing magickal tools to "banishing demons".

So here are the questions:

What is the precedent for sea salt's cleansing/banishing property?

What is the precedent for sandalwood's cleansing/banishing property?

Changes in Perception and Acceptance

Since you began following a religion other than the one you were raised in (most of us here, I think) has your perception of other faiths or cultures changed? Have you let any prejudices fall by the wayside or have you picked up any biases against any other faith or culture?

Do you feel you have grown in your acceptance of others, that is, do you embrace the *different from you* more now than you did before changing faith-paths? Or have your views changed to where you are less accepting?

Do you feel that any (or all) internal changes you may have experienced are due more to your faith change or more to the gained experiences that come with age or due more to the changes the world its-self has gone through in the past, say, 20 years? Combo of all?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Virtues: Curiosity

I promised you all this series of threads ages ago, and I'm finally starting them!

Curiosity: 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 w/r/t curiosity? How does it make one holier or a better person?

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

Music and Paganism

Music is included in everybody's life, I guess, so sometimes I pay to much attention to what that music proclaims. I've never been guided by any music ideology, but some people are and they?re convinced that's the best for them. OK for that, everyone has to have their own subjective opinion and I respect those people no matter what.

But for example: lots of black, death, gothic and heavy metal bends proclaim for them to be pagans, so they declare that they have influence on the sub conches of their listeners. They include pagan Gods and Goddesses in their lyrics and they think they'll be more listened.

What the people who are pagans think of this? I really want to know because I listen that kind of music and on some way I'm worried.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Solitary in a Group Religion?

Let's say you're part of a religion in which community is a big thing. It's not just preferred; to really practice properly, you must be a part of a group and you must take part in appropriate rituals at regular intervals. However, something gets in the way and you find yourself unable to be a part of this community for a while. (What happens? Use your imagination... Perhaps illness or injury keeps you away, perhaps you find that you are completely incompatible with the local group, perhaps you move to a place where there is no local group, perhaps the local group dissolves, perhaps one thing just leads to another and before you know it you find yourself so deep in other commitments you can't break that you have no energy left over for dealing with a religious group.)

How do you handle that? Is it enough to just kind of do your best with a solitary practice and/or living life according to the values and principles of your religion? Does it require a reexamination of priorities, scheduling, choice of where to live, etc.? Is soul-searching over whether you're being a "good enough" fill-in-the-blank required? Does it make a difference if you know that you might be able to return to practicing with the community in a couple of months, as opposed to knowing that this condition might go on indefinitely?


My question is to all those following Greek/Egyptian gods:

What is your opinion of Serapis? Do you work with him? Do you believe he exists? What is your general opinion of him?

The reason why I ask this is because I am writing a paper for my Greek Religion class about Serapis, his formation, and the politics involved and I would like to get the perspective of the modern pagan.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Right Beliefs vs. Right Actions?

In your religion, do actions or beliefs count for more?

Some people, for example, think that it's more important to get their creed right, and not so much the outward observances. Whereas for other people it's the rituals, offerings, prayers, etc. which are more important than the underlying faith.

Which do you think should count for more, if at all?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sharing your Book of Shadows/Dream Diary?

Me and a few people I know got into a discussion earlier today. Our discusion was whether you should share your Book of Shadows/Dream Diary. (What I'm talking is about sharing with your friends/online in a journel or an article on WitchVox)

One side of the discussion was you shouldn't, it's a very personal thing, and your DD should never be shared and you BOS should only be shared with your descendants, if that.

The other side was if you had something worth sharing about one of you meditation experiances or a vision or something, you can, but you shouldn't go around posting/sharing your entire BOS/DD.

What I want to know, is what is your opinion?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fluffy or Just Outdated Information?

I started reading The ABC's of Witchcraft Past and Present last night. I didn't get past the first page of the of preface before Starhawk was mentioned, as well as the Old Religion. Then there was mention of witches being hunted and killed through Europe {for being witches of course}.

And all I could think of was these are all topics that the people at The Cauldron say is fluffy stuff. I flipped through the book a bit {I bought it online, I didn't get to "flip" before I bought it, heh} and she even lists witches that were killed and there was even talk of vampires and werewolves.

I'm really confused because alot of people here have mentioned her writings and recommend them, but it sounds like ... really fluffy stuff in there. Just based on reading 10 pages and a flip through.

Am I judging this too harshly? I tend to be really put off by anything that might be fluffy because 1) I don't want to be one of those people and 2) I prefer the truth, or at least a less pretty pretty princess version of the truth.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tree Magic?

I'm getting ready to do a presentation on Tree Magic before our local group (it happens when one asks a question around here). While finding info on the web is pretty straight forward, do any of you have suggestions as to books, videos, etc. which wouldn't be on the web?

Or leads to particularly good sites?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Family Beliefs/Folk Lore?

I'm curious how many of you have family "superstitions" or folk lore beliefs. Things you do because something happens or it means "x" when "y" happens. What sort of things run in the family, so to speak.

Pretty obviously this isn't limited to necessarily "pagan" beliefs.

Direct Dialing the Gods?

It never ceases to amaze me the connections my brain will make. I was reading through threads here about the different gods, then I glanced up at our department's phone list and suddenly I thought, "I wonder if the gods have direct-dial..."

What are your thoughts / opinions / experiences with "direct dialing" a specific god - one that you had never worked with before, nor had any contact with, perhaps even from a different pantheon. Either for a purpose, such as petition magic, or for just a general meet & greet.

How could a person go about getting in contact with a specific god? Is it possible? (I'm picturing caller-ID and screening phone calls from unfamiliar numbers.) Is it a good idea? Would some gods be more amenable than others to strangers calling?

Which then leads me to pondering... do the gods have voicemail, and do they return messages more often than our programmers?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Does Humanity Need a Cathartic Cleansing?

Lately I've come to wonder if there are too many people with too many different ideas of reality.

We have the Islamic vs Christian / Democratic vs Dictatorial / Have vs Have Not / Axis of Evil vs the Good People / etc. The rhetoric keeps escalating along with the ability to act upon that rhetoric. The news media is talking about attacking Iran as if it is already a done deal. The Islamic radicals are giving the ultimatum of convert to Islam or die. The "leader of the free world" has all but declared war on those that disagree with his vision of how the world should be.

I have to wonder if isolationism is not preferable to globalism given the current state of the latter. The global population is now considerably larger than 6,000,000,000 and the distirbution of assets is at best described as unbalanced. There is the mess is Sudan, the Middle East, North Korea, South America, and so on.

There are no voices of reason speaking out, there is no action to bring peace. Are there too many human beings on this planet? Does anyone really care enough to do anything? Does it really matter anymore?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where Do You Nick Stuff From?

One of the interesting things about being broadly read in a variety of subjects is being able to steal ideas that are formulated in one frame and apply them usefully to another.

For example, in one thread I pulled some terminology from BDSM to express thoughts about a concept, because it was handy and appropriate. There's discussion about religious or magical work with concepts from fiction in a different thread. People using bits of gaming systems to express ideas is pretty widespread (and frequently badly done, but that's a different subject).

What're your favorite weird non-religious places to pull ideas from to express religious concepts?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wine Runs Cold

Here's what happened, how would you interpret it?

Yesterday, after a long break, we bought a bottle of very good red wine (French wine called Le Grand Noir). As usual, we opened the bottle well in advance - this wine needs good airing - so it stood in room temperature, open, for an hour or more.

As is our custom, our home altar was furnished with two miniature wine classes and small portions of the wine (after tasting for the quality) was poured to these two classes, which were then placed on the altar.

We enjoyed our portion of the wine slowly, eating broccoli-feta pie, watching a movie, with our rats taking it easy on the sofa with us. The wine was room temperature and oh, so good.

When the bottle was finally finished, we turned to the altar (again, as is our custom). We took the miniature wine glasses from the altar, raised them to our our household gods (Pan being the one looking over the altar, but not the only one honoured), said our words of honouring / prayers silently to ourselves and sipped the wine.

The wine was - cold. No other way to put it. Definitely well below the temperature of the rest of the bottle. We both felt it and agreed. There was no question about it - we both thought the wine was simply put: COLD.

Where we sat and enjoyed our wine was less than an arm's lenght from the altar - we sat right beside it. This wasn't a question of different parts of the flat having differing temperatures.

We have our theories about the whys. What are yours?

The Afterlife

What do you think will happen when you die? Do you believe that you'll see people from other paths on the Other Side?

For me, this is something I'm struggling with. I believe that I'll have my heart weighed and go on to joing the gods and the other sacred dead but I don't know if I'll be able to get in touch with Christians that I know who have made it into Heaven.

What do you guys think?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pick Two

Two what?

Pick two religious figures who are now dead, with whom you wish you had had contact. Who would they be, what would you talk about, where would you take them? Would you see them together or separately?

They don't have to have been members of your religion, remember. Just religious figures.

Contact with a Cult?

Occasionally we talk about cults and how some person or group seems to qualify as a cult (usually using Bonewit's Cult-o-Meter scale or whatever it's called), but have any of you actually been in a group that you feel would qualify as a cult? Why did it seem that way? How did you get brought in? Why did you decide the group was unhealthy? Were there any negative events when you left?

Starting Communities

This is a spin off discussion from the Congregational support thread.

What problems do you see in starting local organizations? Possible examples I've seen.

Local pagan political power plays?

Lack of focus to bind a group?

No place to meet?

To many weird people want to join?

Don't want to be public?

Lack of time for either the organizers or from the membership?

other ideas?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vital Elements of Initiation Rituals

What are the vital components of initiation rituals?

I'm not asking for oathbound secrets here, just wondering what makes an initiation into a group work? Separation followed by ordeal, surprise, and reintegration seems to be a common pattern. Are all these things necessary, or could you do without some? Will the initiation still take if the candidate/neophyte/student knows what will happen in the ritual beforehand?

Astrology as a Religion?

Recently I was discussing Astrology with someone. He referred to it as a religion. My initial reaction was, "Divination as a religion, eh?" So I set out to see what various resources on the web have to say about that. The search was fairly unsuccessful.

I have never thought of Astrology, or any other method of divination, as a religion, so I am wondering if there is someone here who shares his view and could explain the thought process behind it. (I didn't get much from him except definitions of terms and that he "knows Astrologers".)

So my question is: Can Astrology be considered a religion?

Vibrating and Intoning Names

What is meant by Vibrating and Intoning Names? How do you do it? Do you need a deep voice? When I meditate some time I sing vowel sounds (it helps me focus my mind) I find when I sing them loud and deep, I can feel a "buzzing" in my chest - like a feeling you would get from a sub-woofer. Is this Intoning?

Pronouncements from On High, Do You Obey?

If your faith has an earthly leader of some sort, be it Pope, Minister, High Priestess, High Priest, Rabbi, Mullah, etc. how much obedience or heed do you give their official pronouncements governing your personal life and/or habits?

For example, Lyric posted the story about some Islamic religious leaders saying the keeping of pets (dogs and cats) was not allowed. Now, I am sure, many Muslims will disobey this edict and continue to keep companion animals But others will obey and get rid of any and all cats and dogs they own.

If you belong to a faith that has a leader or leaders, how well do you obey when they give orders that would interfere with your personal life?

Would you quit smoking, drinking...?
Marry only who they said was suitable?
Get rid of your pets?
Wear only certain colors?
Etc., etc...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When Hekate Comes Knocking

I've noticed over the years that a lot of Hekate devotees frequent this forum, myself included. I have always loved the stories of how people react to the thwap from this particularly misunderstood deity. I'm hoping, if you don't mind, that you'll share your early experiences of this deity, how you reacted when you first started thinking that this just might be a calling or thwapping or whatever, and how your opinions have changed, if they have. How did you know it was her? How might others recognize a divine Hekate thwap?

For those who haven't necessarily been called by Hekate, but have heard of her and believe in thwapping, what might you expect from her if she thwapped you? How would you react?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Congregational Support?

There was an interesting post on LJ today by one of my Wiccan friends who spoke about the contrast between her time in the Metropolitan Community Church (pro-gay Christian denomination) and her experience in Wiccan circles (both traditional and Dianic). When she was involved with the MCC she was part of a congregational care team that was available to talk to troubled members of the congregation. She is going through a rough time presently and noticing that nothing like this seems to exist in the Wiccan or larger pagan community. (It was not clear if she was including recons or other types of pagans in this observation or not.)

I know we've had discussions before about whether there ought to be the equivalent of churches and congregations in the various pagan religions or whether assorted pagans could create something like that. It seems like the small circles and solitary practices aren't conducive to providing the kind of care that members of mainline congregations can expect--even pragmatic things like having meals delivered during convalescence. Yet it seems to me that pagans are not lacking in compassion or a desire to help--look at the prayer request topics here at TC.

Should pagan religious groups incorporate some mechanism for supporting their members in more than a striclty spiritual sense? Does your religion have this as a priority or is this seen as separate from the religious sphere? (A need better met in therapy or by friends and loved ones, perhaps?) Have you ever felt the lack of such support when you were going through a hard time either in terms of health or emotionally? If we wanted to support our co-religionists in some way, how could we structure such supports into our growing religious communities? Can small groups like covens manage this or is it too much to ask?

Feel free to answer any of these or to suggest new questions related to the general topic.

I should add that some of the responses to the LJ post mentioned that the Christian religion specifically requires charitable acts and that perhaps pagans are resistant to forming congregations as a result of negative past experiences or because they are by nature more individualistic in their approach to religion as nonconformists. I don't think we are doomed to be antisocial but I admit I resist joining large religious groups after my own Hare Krsna past. Yet when I went through my heart surgery I found myself really wishing I had a minister of some sort to talk to as well as a congregation to bring me a few meals-beyond what my friends could manage.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gods of our Ancestors?

What are "ancestral" gods? Does it matter if the gods you worship are the ones your ancestors did? Does it matter if your ancestors would have rolled over in their grave at the thought?

How does ethnicity relate to your religion?

Divine Impersonations

Do you think a god can impersonate another god when communicating with us? Is there a way we can tell?

For that matter, when you communicate with your deities, is there something that tells you you're getting the real deal?

I was just thinking of gods like Loki who have a bit of a reputation, and wondering if they'd ever do something like this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pagan from only Europe?

All the pagan sub-religions seem to derive from Europe somewhere, is there any not from Europe? Have there been witches that were not from Europe in the past?

Pagan Books You Love

What are your favorite Pagan books? These can be books you like to recommend to others, books you like just for yourself, or even books that are so awesome you hope too many people don't find out about them.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Plus Five Years

It's hard to believe five years have gone by. We remember the events of 9/11 as if they happened yesterday. Unfortunately, bin Laden is still at large and while the US has not been a victim of any more terrorist attacks, other countries have suffered from them -- repeatedly. Our hearts go out to the families of all the innocents who have been killed or maimed by terrorists. We shall never forget.

Empaths Sensing Major Paradigm Shifts?

I am looking for fellow empaths to discuss what they are sensing in not only their own communities, but in the world at large.

It is my sense that Mankind is at a major crossroads right now, that we are entering a period of great change. Painful, disruptive, massive change. Major paradigm shifts....and while it will be "The End Of The World As We Now Know It" will not be the End of the World or of Mankind.

For the past several years I have sensed a building rage in the world....that I think we have seen become manifest in the past 10 years or so...more so in the last 5 or 6.

I would love to find out if others are sensing the same things I am... Perhaps I am looking for reassurance that I am not nuts... or perhaps I am looking for confirmation. I am not really sure. But I am looking for discussion if anyone is willing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

When Do (Don't) Messages/Events Come From Gods?

Quite frequently on this forum, threads are started along the lines of 'This happened, it's a sign from the Gods, which one do you think it is?' or 'Is this a sign/ omen?' or even 'I keep thinking about such and such, so I think I'm being thwapped' etc., etc.

What I thought would be interesting is a meta-discussion about this. Do you think all events and thoughts occurring to you/others are signs (and why?)? Do you think some people might be receiving signs and omens constantly, but not others (eg: you do, others don't, or others do, and you don't)? If all events and thoughts are a message of some kind, do you act upon all of them, some, or none? How do you decide?

Do you think some events or thoughts are messages, but not others? How do you distinguish them? How do you decide to act on them?

Alternatively, do you think that omens, thoughts etc, are not messages from deities? If so, do you think that they are 'delusions' (as in the sense of not being true/ wrongly labeled) or possible signs of mental ill-health (i.e. hallucinations rather than wishful thinking)? Do you think they could represent something else within the realm of magic/occult/supernatural etc.? Do you think they could represent a form of information gathering explainable by science, rather than just random thoughts/attributions?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Children and Religion

I guess this kind of ties in with the Christmas thread but balancing pagan life and kids is hard(ish) to do to. You have the school year, with its harvest festival/christmas/easter celebrations and the R.E set by national curriculum. As I'm not in position to home teach there has to be a balance between what school teach and what I teach. Does anyone else have a similar experience and or any tips to pass on.

Looking for Celtic Stories and Ritual

Recently, I've been prompted to write my own rituals for the holidays of the year (currently following the traditional Celtic fire-festivals and the solstices and equinoxes--nothing new here!), and I'd like to base them in Celtic legends, myths and folklore, but placing more emphasis on my own personal mythology.

What I'm really looking to the stories for are symbols and traditions, or songs, chants and poems typically associated with those times. I'm looking primarily to Irish sources, but I am also looking at Scottish sources, particularly the folklore surrounding Bride.

My question is has anyone ever done anything like this? If so, what stories and legends have been especially inspiring or helpful to you? Any advice or suggestions are very much appreciated.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oath to Artemis?

Lately I've been feeling Artemis' presence in my thoughts. A lot. I would love to work with her, as she represents something I've always held sacred even before I was a pagan -- the wild feminine, the huntress under the moon, and strong women. I started to pray to her, to figure out what was going on, and I got the strongest feeling that she wanted me to take an oath to remain a virgin until I marry. I could feel the words forming in my throat as soon as the idea popped into my head!

It seems as though she won't work with me unless I do. I can sort of feel her hovering, like she's watching but outside of my awareness until I take that oath. I guess I just wanted to say this, and get some input. I've never had an experience quite like it, and I'm a little weirded out. Has this happened to anyone else?

Popularity of Herbs?

Do you think herbs play an important role in pagan religions? How popular are herbs in your country?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Earth-Based Religions and Other Planets?

From my understanding many paths are earth based and worship deities of earth origin(or attachment). How does a follower of these beliefs account for other planets and the possibility of life 'out there'? If there is no life on said planet, are their no gods for that planet? Are they the same gods, possibly with different names?

Personally, I feel that there must be at least one other planet out there that has life like our own. In order for me to fully accept an earth based religious philosophy, I must first be able to relate the belief to another planet. Tie the two, if that makes sense.

There are very few hard 'facts' in my own mind relating to faith. Just as reincarnation eliminates many religions from my pool of choices, so does the belief that we are not alone.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Talisman to Help with Difficult Pregnancy?

I have a friend who is presently five months pregnant. She is having an extremely difficult time (after two miscarriages, a tubal pregnancy and a couple of years on and off of fertility treatments we are all very excited!) She has been having a very hard time with nausea and vomitting. She has actually lost six pounds since becoming pregnant.

I am currently preparing a care package for her (I have included some aroma therapy and some teas, all approved for pregnancy). I would like to give her a talisman to focus on when she's having a particularly difficult time. Does anyone have suggestions on spells, prayers, invocations, etc. that I can use to help her; maybe something that has worked for you in the past? As I said, I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Questions about Pantheism

Pantheists believe the cosmos is divine and the earth is sacred. They do not believe or follow certain deities? Do they believe in any higher beings like angels, guardian spirits...etc. Do some and some don't? I read the site but didn't completely understand.

Do they believe there is consciousness in the cosmos and or earth? Maybe someone out there can clear this up for me?

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