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?

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