Friday, December 28, 2007

Nature of "The Divine"?

First a quick definition. When I use the term “the divine” I mean whatever you conceive of as the gods or higher spiritual beings.

I have found on this forum a diversity of opinions on the actual nature of the divine. It has peaked my curiosity and I would like to see more discussion on this issue so let me pose some questions about to you wonderful people.

1. When you think of the divine do you understand the beings to be distinct, independent beings? For example, if you worship/believe in Zeus is Zeus a self-sustained being of tremendous power or otherworldliness? Or is Zeus dependent on human interaction or some other source for existence? If not independent, then what is the divine dependent on and how does that affect our relationships with the divine?

1a. Or the corollary, do you view the divine as some sort of arch-typical being (ala Jungian belief)? Or human construct?

2. How do you communicate or interact with the divine? Is directed personal communication enough? (Prayer, a ritual for the god, talking, thinking to the god, etc.) Is indirect personal communication enough? (Thinking about concerns, worship, etc but not directly for the benefit of the divine.)

3. What do you expect in response from the divine? Do you expect a change in the behaviors, situations, or attributes of the world? (Weal or woe.) Do you expect nothing? Do you expect a purely experiential state? (Religious ecstasy, oneness with the world, etc.)

4. And finally. Is there only one divine or many? If only one, what of other supposed divine beings and experiences? If many, what distinguishes one from another? Is the whole question subjective?

I think these four questions should given a basic framework of how everyone conceives of the divine. And will help me to understand the way other people think when I'm debating with them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Aromatherapy Advice?

Much to my (very pleasant) surprise, I became the proud owner of a Spa Mist fountain mister, which has the capacity to diffuse essential oils in addition to moistening the terribly dry air in my bedroom and dorm room (which is the reason it was given to me in the first place). But me, being the crazy pagan that I am, got all giddy when I saw that it was suitable for oil diffusion, as I've been reading about aromatherapy here and there on the internet for some time, having an interest in the subject, and I've been using a small terracotta ornament to diffuse a particular blend through my dorm. But being mostly inexperienced with aromatherapy using such a device and knowing the good folks here at TC are rather well versed in a veritable plethora of things, I figured I would poll the masses as to what I should do.

If you had to pick three different oils to recommend to someone on a limited budget for use in a mister, what would you recommend?

I already have a blend of equal parts frankincense and lavender, a blend of tea tree and lavender, to cedarwood, cypress, myrrh, and frankincense, many of which were bought for use in rituals but not exclusively dedicated for such. I'm not certain about the cedarwood, cypress, or tea tree/lavender blend, but from what I can deduce, frankincense, myrrh, and the frankincense/lavendar blend should be safe to use in the mister. I also have a few various blends all made by the same company, the components of which I don't remember, but the peppermint/lemon/lime one I have with me at the moment was hurting my throat just diffusing via a terracotta diffuser, so I suspect it may not have been as essential as they claimed to have been.

I want to add at least three oils to my "library" (as it were) to expand my capabilities. At the very least I want to find lavender, as it's extremely flexible. I'm not sure where to go otherwise, and I was hoping the good folks at TC could give me some advice. I'd mostly be looking for oils with sedative properties, or oils useful for a dorm room. I'm not sure what properties are useful in oils to be used in a mister. I would want to avoid too many oils with a stimulant property, as I find that I am often made high-strung and irritable even by too much exposure to such oils via my little terracotta diffuser. I suspect an antiseptic would be useful, but it seems that a lot of antiseptic oils are stimulants as well. Bergamot seems like a good choice for those dreaded winter months in a bleak dorm, or rosemary for its mental properties, but I'm not certain whether or not they'd be safe for use in my mister. In fact, I'm hesitant about what oils *would* be appropriate for such a device.

Any recommendations? Any advice? Any reputable books to recommend for my pending library/bookstore trip? I'm so worried about picking up a book by a less-than-reliable source without realizing it.

Thanks for your help in advance!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How Long Have You Been Pagan?

Considering there are quite a few teens floating around TC, I was wondering what age most of you started exploring religions/paths outside the mainstream and how you got started.

How did this affect your family situation?

Were any of you raised with a pagan religion?

Have there been many advantages/disadvantages to starting young?

And do you think your age has affected your ability to follow your path - i.e. do you think you would have handled certain things differently at a different age?

Should You Learn the Language of Your Religion?

do you think that you should learn the language of your religion? By this I mean, if you are a Hellenic Reconstructionist, should you learn Ancient Greek? Or even modern Greek?

I know, most people would disagree, however I was just thinking: have you seen the problems that the Christians have had with reading translations? Well, wouldn't it make sense to read the Bible in the original language it was written in? This works for the Jews, so why not the Pagans?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

While Christmas isn't a holiday in most Pagan religions, it is a holiday that many, if not most, Pagans celebrate in some way with family and friends. So the hosts and staff of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum hope you will have a very happy holiday -- and to our Christian members and friends, have a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Charity as Religious Practice?

Is charity considered a requirement in your religion? Does the type of charity matter?

How Do You Study?

How do you other teens go about studying paganism? Do you read every book you can get your hands on, or do you read books about specific things? Are any of you lucky enough to be able to take classes somewhere or have pagan friends to study with? Especially for people who's parents either don't know or don't approve, how do you practice and actually *be* pagan?

I'm asking because I'm feeling stuck. Since I'm not really part of an actual *religion* (Wicca's the closest, minus the deities and a few other things), so I don't really know how to continue researching. My parents know, but aren't really that supportive, so I can't get any help there, and I'm the only one I know who's pagan. How do you guys deal with it?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Magic and Disturbing the Balance of Nature

I have the utmost respect for nature in it's physical sense and spiritual sense and the balance that goes hand in hand. Therefore I hold tight to the belief that if the nature of things is interfered with nature will find a way to set the balance right. There is a balance to be maintained and although the individual disturbing it might achieve the results they so desired it will come at a price. Which brings me to my question ...

What are individuals practising magic using it for in todays world if the ideal scenario is not to disturb the balance of nature?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cancer Surgery for LyricFox

As many long time members already know, Donna (aka Lyricfox) was diagnosed with oral cancer in her tongue at the end of October. You may have noticed that we have not been nearly as active as usual here on the message board over the last six weeks. That's because we have been scrambling to get her treated ever since. This is made harder as we are one of the 40 million plus people in the US who have no medical insurance (as it would "only" cost about three-quarters of our monthly income).

LyricFox will be going in for surgery to remove the cancerous part of her tongue (and some lymph nodes in her neck just to be safe) on December 20th -- the earliest date in December that her doctors could get an operating room. She will be in the hospital 3 to 4 days and then will need several weeks to recover. At this point, they are not sure how much of her tongue they will have to remove so they can't predict how much trouble she will have eating and talking.

As I mentioned above, our presence on The Cauldron's message board has already been greatly reduced. It is about to become even less -- it will be almost nonexistent for two or three weeks starting on the 18th or 19th of December. We will try to make updates to Donna's Cancer Diary at

when we have something to report.

Star has been given the authority to make any absolutely needed Host-level decisions while Lyric and I are occupied with medical issues. I expect everyone to give Star and the rest of the staff their co-operation. If decisions are made affecting you that you just cannot live with, you can appeal them to Lyric and/or myself when we are back.

If you would like to help, there are a couple of things you can do:

1) Prayers and Healing Thoughts/Magick -- LyricFox welcomes all prayers, healing thoughts, healing magick, etc. regardless of your religion or path.

2) Post messages and start interesting threads on The Cauldron's message board to help keep it active and interesting while the boards' active Co-Hosts are away dealing with medical issues. We'd really like to come back to an active, thriving board.

Thanks in advance for your understanding and prayers.

Randall and LyricFox
Co-Hosts, The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum

What Does Religion Give You?

And so I ask of you, what do you want out of your religious path? Where is your spirituality leading you and what do you look to gain from it?

Wiccan Wreath Added to Public Holiday Display

A Wiccan Wreath donated by Circle Sanctuary was added to a holiday display on city property in Green Bay after people complained about the "Christian only" display.

Read the news article

What do you think about religious displays on public property?

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Purpose of Life?

Just wanted to throw one of my musings out there... What do you think is the purpose of life? Is there a purpose? I am particularly referring to human life here.

So, in a nutshell: what do you think we are here for?

What Age is Best for People to Begin Exploring Paganism?

Some children discover paganism when extremly young and their parents tell them its wrong. I know of this because of conversations with people at my school. So to resolve so I decided to ask The Cauldron and see what came up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Cauldron's TENTH Anniversary Today (13 Dec 2007)

Ten years ago (on 13 Dec 1997) -- after three frustrating days when only Elspeth, Ann (Empireone), and myself could post -- The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened its doors to the general public on the Delphi online service. This was before it was known as Delphiforums and back when user forums, then known as "Custom Forums" had a presence on both the paid Delphi Online Service (in wonderful a pure text/command line like environment) and on their new free Web forum version. The forum was an instant success with 60 or 70 messages posted that December and hitting 1000 messages within six months or so.

The Cauldron was started as a Yule gift from me to Elspeth -- you had to pay Delphi for forums back then (six months in advance). It was staffed by Elspeth, Ann, and myself with an able assist from our friends from the dying GEnie Online Service. We started a web site for the forum in the web space I got with my Delphi account in January of 1998, although we did not get domain name for a couple of years.

Our forum has done well in the ten years that followed, although we have had to move around a lot. From Delphi to a mailing list. Then back to Delphiforums (Delphi's new name). When Delphi's poor service and pricing got to be too much to much in early 2004, Bob offered us server space and we moved to our own site. First with Beehive's Delphiforums-like software (two incarnations), then (very reluctantly) to SMF early this year when it became apparent that Beehive software just could not meet the needs of this forum.

It has been an interesting ten years. Lyricfox and I met through TC and married over three and a half years ago. We all made many new friends via TC. It's also been a lot of work. Work which has been shared with our staff members -- without them, this forum would not be here today. However, the reason it is still here isn't the Hosts or the staff, it's our members: the wonderful people reading this message. Without you, this forum would be a barren wasteland.

It's been a great ten years. Here's hoping the future will be as good -- or even better!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Songs that Remind You of the Gods?

This is a topic that I know has been discussed on our old Beehive board. I thought that since there are so many new members that showed up since the move it would be interesting to restart it.

So are there any songs that remind you of your gods?

I'll start by posting some of mine:

Bleed it Out -- Linkin Park

My Immortal and in some ways Like You by Evanescence.

The Sharpest Lives -- My Chemical Romance

Minority -- Green Day
Smile -- Lily Allen

--You Give Love A Bad Name -- Bon Jovi

--Building a Mystery -- Sarah McLachlan
--Dead in the Water -- Hawthorne Heights

--Never Again -- Kelly Clarkson
--Bitch -- Meridith Brooks

Dead in the Water -- Hawthorne Heights. In fact, most of their If Only You Were Lonely... album reminds me of her for some reason.

Magic, Occult and Religious Symbols?

I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the symbols in avatars etc. I can't decode and don't even know the names of them.

Would be glad about any help, explanations, links, book recommendations etc. Maybe this thread could also be a place for all other newbies who have questions about symbols.

Ahem, what is that 7-pointed star? A septagram? And what does it commonly stand for?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Merging Several Religions Into One?

Is it possible to take bits and pieces from each religion that feels right to u and merge them together to from a different religion? Like i find myself believing a lot of the Wiccan ways while im still a bit drawn to some Christian teachings. Also there are a couple other religions that I find feel right to me. Can I have some advice please?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hellenic Polytheist Survey

Oinokhoe, author of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored, is asking Hellenic Polytheists to take a survey...

I have decided to release a second edition of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored within the next several months - it will have a few additions and edits (I'll be able to give more specifics later on), as well as an ISBN and Amazon listing, and as part of this project I thought it would be interesting to do another survey of the Hellenic polytheist community. True, it has only been a few years, but I think a lot has changed in that time, and I'd like to see if that's true statistically.

I would really appreciate it if everyone could take a few minutes and fill out this survey to the best of your ability. It has about 60 questions, most are just simple multiple-choice type questions, so it shouldn't take too long. There is room at the end for more extensive comments. All responses are confidential - I don't ask for names, and you only need to give me your email if you want to be notified about the second edition, and even then your email isn't connected to your responses. Please pass this link on to any other Hellenic lists/forums/etc. you are on, I want to get as many answers as possible. The survey is for those who consider their main religious path to be Hellenic paganism of some sort (including dual- or multi-trad folks), so it's pretty inclusive.

Here is the link:

Thank you all for your help!

Your New Year's Day?

This may be an odd question to a lot of people. But a lot of different religions and belief systems consider new years to be on a different date. For example some of my wiccan friends celebrate Samhain as New year's eve. To them night of Oct 31st is new years eve. I on the other hand consider the spring equinox (the beginning of spring) to be new years. So what date do you consider to be new years?

Also I would like to know what the significance of the solstices are to you. Start of a season, mid-season, whatever it is.

Other No-No Authors?

I just got a Magick book for my birthday. It's "The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies, and Magic" by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, and I was wondering if she too is just fluff?

And for every newbie too, who else should we avoid pertaining to books/online resources/stores?

Any good books etc, etc, etc? About any subject of Paganism?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Homegrown Solstice Traditions

What? No abundance of winter solstice threads? Were we all dutifully waiting for December only to find ourselves too busy to post? We have to remedy this!

I'd like to hear how others incorporate their newer (to most families, at least) Pagan traditions with older Christian-oriented family traditions. In our house we've noticed the most meaningful family traditions had nothing much to do with Christianity to begin with. So mincemeat pastries continue to be served in this household without abatement and the customs of my parents' respective families have been combined in ours (his: mincemeat pies with dinner, hers: cinnamon buns for breakfast, and ours: mincemeat buns for dinner and breakfast). Every year now we hold a solstice vigil party at which we serve a big crockpot full of hot mulled wine which becomes integral in a sumbel-like drinking rite around midnight. Hats are filled with treats for our Santa figure (haven't worked that out yet) and left under the altar, to be found in the morning filled with all our gifts. (We don't happen to do a tree in our household, although a potted rosemary cone makes an annual appearance.)

In an old is new again twist, we don't give many gifts, but the one we give to my parents' household from each year out is a goose ala Scrooge. This year it's just the one goose because finances are tight, but the plan is to grow the tradition by giving a Christmas goose to all the various households we exchange gifts with plus a pair of geese (or substitute) to the needy either directly to a family hitting a rough patch or through Heifer Project.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


What is happiness?

Is it something to be achieved as a goal which can then last, or, conversely, is it something to be experienced, fleeting? Is it even truly attainable as a goal?

And finally, is happiness a choice?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Self Realization?

Self realization or self honesty, I find, is very important when it comes to spirituality, but how does it affect your mundane life?

I use myself as an example: I have fairly good self realization, I know I am a good person and that I do good things, but I also know that I do have a spiteful and somewhat mean side. I usually keep it to myself, but it doesn't mean it is there. I acknowledge it and accept it and I also control it. I believe without self-realization that we can not progress as people or as spiritual beings. (Progression is very important to me.) It seems to me though that some people on a mundane level really don't like this. They want things to remain the same or perhaps people who truly understand themselves scare them.

I just wanted to see other opinion on this. Thanks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pagan Home- and After- Schooling Brainstorming

How do we bring education home in a Pagan-friendly fashion? While we're at it, how do those of us interested in a Pagan oriented religious education go about it? There aren't many Sunday schools for the out-here set.

My child being young, I've focused more on compiling resources and preparing myself than a specific curriculum. Groups such as Spiral Scouts and 4H look very promising, and I've noted a number of schools/camps such as Outward Bound and Concordia Language Villages that can spotlight specific skills. Our library is stocked with books needed for either a Great Books or Classical plan of study. I'm using the food science aspect as an excuse to stockpile Good Eats DVDs.

How have others dealt with this?

"Take what you like and leave the rest" Paganism

don't want to spark an argument here. I'm just too curious for my own good.

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism. I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans. Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

Your thoughts?

Paganism As Innovation?

It seems until the last decade or two, modern day Paganism established itself from the inventiveness and creativity of its practitioners and yet many of the Pagans I have met believe they are preserving a continuous, prehistoric religion of Goddess worship and prefer to retain each text and ritual as sacred writ. How have any of you developed, elaborated or extended what you learnt from Pagan texts with your own experience?

For example, I am intending to articulate my own path in a formal Book of Shadows based on my Wiccan and magical self-training that integrates my own poetry and prose with an academically rigorous examination of the history and theory of magic. It means a lot to me to know there is an element of creativity in my religion and that there is something I can make of it that will be my own.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Green Man and John Barleycorn?

Does anyone know of references that connect the Green Man with the "John Barleycorn" ballads?

Friday, November 23, 2007

What Have You Gotten Done?

Maybe we all need a little space to pat ourselves on the back.

So, what has everyone else accomplished (faith/religion-wise) this year?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prayer Beads?

Ok, just a quick question about prayer beads. Roll Eyes

* Do you use them in meditation? why? why not?
* How do you use them?
* Are they helpful?

Partners And Paganism?

I'm curious to know how those of you with, or who have had, non-Pagan but open-minded partners have gotten them involved in your religion? I am certainly not implying conversion or getting them involved against their will. My fiancé flirted with Wicca shortly before we met four and a half years ago. He didn't do much beyond reading Wiccan texts and while he found it all very interesting, he's ultimately very happy being "somewhere between Atheist and Agnostic" (in his words).

As I've recently begun to take my religion to the next level and challenge my understanding with research into a variety of Pagan traditions, as well as magical practices, my partner has voiced interest in getting involved. I know above all, he's most interested in showing support to me, rather than as making a conscious decision to seek out Paganism as a religion for himself. I'd like to know from those of you who have been in similar experiences how you got your partners involved, or at least more informed about your religion, and whether or not it resulted in a good or bad experience for you both in the end?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Building a Modern Kemetic Temple

This is something that's been on my mind for complicated madness-in-motion reasons, but the practical parts of it are worth throwing out for people to chew on.

Ancient temples were built to some very exacting standards, all of which are deeply rooted in the theology of Egyptian thought. This is not minor stuff, folks, but a part of the underpinning of the universe here. :} If we are going to, in any way, be thinking about building sacred sites or mansions for the gods, this is stuff we're gonna need to think on.

An ancient temple was a fortress, walled against the disruptive chaos that might leak into the world around it. It was a magical support point, pinning down reality in one location, with the spellwork not merely written on its walls but inscribed in the very shape of the construction. The stabilising influence of the perfectly constructed temple extended to the world around it, helping to hold things in place and maintain ma'at.

The walls were laid out with reference to the astronomical truths of the area, to get the alignments in tune with the cosmos. Foundation walls were dug down until there was groundwater in the trenches, a layer of sand was poured in, and then construction proper began -- the groundwater being a manifestation of Nun, the neutral uncreated, the well of possibility; I'm guessing that the sand was intended to be protective, possibly a reminder of the encircling desert that kept invaders rare.

The sanctuary of the god included a columned hall in which the columns were carved to look like marsh plants, bundles of papyrus, similar things -- plants hearkening to the First Time, the creation of all things on the benben, which was logically speaking a swamp. I think all non-Amarna temples got narrower and darker, sloping upwards, as one got closer to the abode of the god, seated in darkness on the mound in the instant before creation, constnatly in the act of bringing forth reality from unlight. (Amarna temples were open-roofed so one could see the actual sun disc.)

This is what the ancients built -- a carefully designed fortification that pulls back through time to the moment of primordial creation, centreing on the god, from Whom order could emanate, spreading outwards through the recapitulation of time and from there into the rest of the world.

(This is from memory -- the book I'm pulling this stuff out of is 'Temples of Ancient Egypt', which goes into more detail about things like the fortification origins of the temples, some more structural stuff, and so on. The book is .... lemme see if I understand how to make the amazon link, here. It's a cool book, if you're a GIANT NERD.)

Obviously, building on that scale is an undertaking that's a bit beyond modern Kemetics at this time.

So what can we do that gives respect to the importance of these things, of rooting in the Nun and protecting ourselves, of retreating back through time and into the dark to find the emanation of the god Who holds this place? What is a scale that's workable and doesn't abandon the hope of building things fit to hold the world together?

Are Deities Tied to Place?

An interesting point came up in another thread and I wanted to expand on it, as it has been on my mind lately. How tied to place are Gods and Goddesses?

In ancient times, Deities were often seen as existing only in certain areas, and were thought of as being Gods/Goddesses of certain lands. Often they were tied to specific landforms as well.

Sometimes they merged or were adapted to other lands but not as a rule. There are recorded cases of statues/idols being "loaned out" to other societies. And of course there were societies who usurped or replaced the Gods of others.

My personal experience with this is that I do like the ancient Egyptian Gods, but I live in the mid-western US with a totally different climate than ancient Egypt and I don't think they are a good fit environmentally. On a spiritual level I feel a connection, but they are far removed from my current climate so there is no connection in that area at all. When I lived on the west coast there was much more of a climate connection.

My feeling on this is that I don't think most ancient people (there are exceptions - Hebrews for example) toted their Gods about. When you went to a new land you encounted the Gods of that land. Is carrying a God from one land to another a recent concept, influenced by the ways of Christianity and Islam?

Native American gods were once the only Gods of where I live. Now there are people here of many faiths and churches of many denominations around every corner. Can I really bring ancient Egyptian Gods here too without my beliefs becoming an invasive religion to the spirit of the area?

To boil it down I guess my question is this, Can you really remove deities from their native lands? What is lost or gained by doing so?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Staying Within a Faith that Rejects your Values?

I've been curious for some time now as to why people continue to identify with a faith that differs substantially from their values. For example, when you look at how the birthrate has dropped substantially in countries like Italy and France, you can be sure these folks aren't adhering to the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on birth control. Many other folks disagree vehemently with church policies on things like female ordination, but they still remain members of their local parish and support the Catholic church through volunteering and financial contributions. (Note: I'm not trying to single out Roman Catholics, just provide an example with which most people will be familiar.)

Why do you think that people remain in religious organizations that clearly clash with their values?

Holiday Recipe Exchange

'Tis the season for me to be in the kitchen and I'm getting tired of making the same four side dishes every year. The ubiquitous green bean casserole is just plain getting on my nerves. Undecided

Would anyone be interested in exchanging favorite recipe ideas for holiday meals (or for that matter, any meal this time of year)?

Friday, November 16, 2007

What Happens When Deities Get Mad (Nowadays)?

People speak of how dangerous certain deities can be. I certainly believe this to be true, but have no personal experience with it myself. I am pretty sure I'll sound like an ignoramus here, but HOW exactly are they dangerous? What do they do? I know the myths surrounding several such Gods, but what do they do to people now? I'm sure it's not always the same, but does anyone have an example? I have not noticed anyone turned into a spider, a pillar of salt lately.

As for the latter, Yaweh doesn't really do that (particular punishment, at least) anymore. Based on the Torah, He is pretty titchy, but He doesn't seem to be doing many things that strike terror into people's hearts lately. And I don't count certain actions of His followers as counting as scary things He himself has done or would even approve of.

Maybe the deidties have simply become more subtle, doing only things that are either scientifically understandable or else doing less understandable things to only one or a few people.

It's possible that much of the annoying or sad things in my life have been caused because Yaweh got mad at me, but I just don't think that's why my gravy has a tendency to turn out runny and my mother drives me nuts. Christianity's conception of God may be behaving a little differently now that Jesus is part of Him though. And I trust Jesus not to give anyone runny gravy.

Anyway, my point - or my question: if someone pisses off Kali, Loki, or the Morrigan etc. what should they expect? I have no plans to piss of said deities, but I am pretty curious. And would refering to a deity as immature or moody piss the deity off? Does it depend on the deity? Obviously it would be totally inappropriate to say such things during a ceremony, but I can see how those assessments would come up in casual chatter.

I mean, what may happen? Most of you don't believe you're going to be sent to Hell if you piss off some God. Are you going to be tortured by bad dreams? Are you going to get turned into an as yet uncreated bug? A pillar of some sort of cooking seasoning? Have all your kids murdered by a plague? Get hit by a car? Suffer from chronic itching? Be forced to watch Gigli? Have to spend more time with your mother in law? Fall madly in love with Mr. Bean? Suffocate under a pile of beanie babies in a freak accident?!?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer Structure/Methods?

I am interested in the utilities of the different methods of prayer. For instance, do you find that a simple self-made verse fulfills your spiritual need, or do you feel the need for a more complex series of words and gestures? Or do you feel that neither of these do the trick, and prefer a well thought out and structured ritual? Whatever your preference is, how do your Gods feel about it?

Any Good Books on Medicine Wheel and Native American Shamanism?

I'm a beginner in this subject, have only read a few books which were generally on shamanism, but would like to have something about Native Americans that doesn't toss different tribes together as if it was just one 'Native American religion'. Overview books appreciated though.

I'd like how-to-do-it books as well as anthropological ones. Even neopaganic ones, but please nothing where you can't tell what the author invented and what he/she took from various tradition. (Nothing against eccleticism, I just want everything labelled.)

As I'm now shocked about my long wish list myself, let me say that I appreciate every suggestion, even if the book isn't perfect in any way. Just give me a warning so I know what I'm getting.

Beginner Gods and Goddesses?

I was thinking again, always a dangerous past-time, and I thought about the children of pagans and how they were introduced to the worship of different deities. Would you introduce them to your own gods? Or find them one that agreed with their intrests? Are there any you would forbid them from messing around with?

For those of you without children, who would you recommend to a beginner?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reading Too Much into Everyday Things?

So Everfool wrote this on another thread:

"I've regularly seen people decide that this or that random event, or their latest purchase, or whatever, means that they've been picked out by a deity. It isn't that I have a problem with people finding something *spiritual* in an event, as that tends to reflect a more personal and internal feeling. I find it somewhat incredible that many suggest a practically concrete and *obvious* spiritual event."
Similar discussions have come up everywhere and usually result in a lot of "Oh, you know when people come to paganism, they're discovering their spirituality and everyhting is all new and shiny and they're still learning." But I've known folks who have been pagan for years who still take every little thing as a sign or omen of something or of someone trying to communicate with them, or encouraging new folks who think that every little thing is a sign of something to continue believing that it is. For some people, NOTHING can ever be taken at face value, and to suggest that something might really not have a significant meaning or that it's a coincidence is frequently akin to high treason and likely to get one flamed....I also said this in the same thread:
Someone sees a crow on the telephone pole and OOOoOH it MUST be a message of grand importance from The Morrigan, with whom they've NEVER had any past experience. But suddenly, this crow must mean something. Or "So I saw some horses in a field today and then when I went to the bookstore, they had a book on horses in the window. I think Epona's trying to tell me she wants to be my patron goddess." There's never the possibility that it's national horse week, or their making special note of it being Justin Morgan's birthday or the Kentucky Derby is three days away.
I've seen people posting on other forums, what seems to be every few minutes "the cream swirled clockwise in my coffee today instead of counterclockwise and I forgot to add enough sugar, do you think it's a sign of something" or "My cat's been more affectionate lately than usual. I just know it's because Bast is trying to send me a message" or "My dog turned seven years old on the seventh of this month...why is the number seven trying to get my attention? Huh" (These are actual examples that I've seen in the last few years of things that seem like they have much more obvious logical reasons...there's always a possibility that there might be other significance, but taken alone, it's FAR more likely that it means nothing. dog turned seven on the seventh? Well geez. I think that's about as significant as the fact that I once turned two years old on December second. Unless you die before reaching that birthday or were born on leap year, everything that was ever born has a birthday like that.

Enough examples, you know what I mean.

So...WHY is it such a horrible thing to put forth this suggestion that something just be taken at face value, or to wait and see if anything else related crops up before jumping to the "Oooooh mystickale special" conclusion? why must it constantly be encouraged by some folks that every little thing be looked at as some huge omen or sign or mystical connection?


Oh...just a note, this is NOT commentary on the thread from which this tangent originated. This is a "general pagan world" discussion.

Mr Cunningham's Books

When I first started looking into Wicca and Neo-Wicca a few years ago I picked up a collection of books, which included Scott Cunningham's 'Guide for the Solitary Practitioner' which I found to be written well. I then moved onto more advanced books and haven't looked back since. Therefore I have never picked up another book by Cunningham, and just browsing through my 'Pagan' shelf on my bookshelf I have decided I would like to.

Could you please help me to decide which book would be the best to get? Because there is a multiplicity of themes that he has covered! Any suggestions and information on contents would be much appreciated!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's on your Altar?

I've just started putting together things for my first altar, and it got me wondering what everyone else has on theirs...

My altar is going to be dedicated to Hermes and so I far I've got a candle dedicated to him; a small silver jug and libation dish, a few coins and a picture of Hermes. I'd like to also get some frankincense incense, a small statue of him and maybe a small pot of strawberries (I read somewhere about strawberries being sacred to him and i thought it might be a nice place to pour water libations).

What about everyone else (feel free to show off a little bit)?

Parent/Child Relationship/Respect in Paganism

Briefly in another thread, I saw somebody stating that it is not okay to lie to one's parents about one's religion. This reminds me of something that has largely bothered me about many Pagan discussions I have witnessed.

Due to the fact that my parent's actions caused me to end up in foster care, I am certain I'm rather biased - but the whole "Your parents deserve (insert anything other than 'the respect they've earned' here) because they managed to breed" bothers me. I agree that many, possibly most, parents have earned a lot more respect than that which their children give them. However, religion is a private thing which does not require being told or explained to ANYONE, let alone a person that will judge and attempt to control said religion - whether or not that person is a parent. A lie to an owner - and a parent owns a child's body (not soul) unless they beat or molest said child, at which point the state owns the child's body - is not the same as a lie to a partner, friend, or kin-minus-ownership.

A long time ago, I memorized this bit of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It easily and eloquently explains my feelings on the topic at hand:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

What are your views on the relationship between child and parent as mandated by your spiritual beliefs?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Religions Imposed Morals and Society?

There has been a lot of discussion about religion and morals, I was wondering...

How do religiously imposed morals or behaviours effect society nowadays when there is Very little consistency in the religious beliefs of a community?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I am NOT meaning to offend, I really am curious. I know a lot more about Buddhism than I do Paganism so just as a point of reference... Buddhism is tradtitionally pantheistic/nontheistic. How does pantheistic/non-theistic Paganism differ? How are they similar? I've noticed that some Pagans identify as both. Is it mainly the practice of each that makes them different, or underlying beliefs/philosophies?

Why is It So Important to Some People that all Pagans be the Same?

Why is it so important to some people that all Pagans be the same? It could be that they're all "earth-based" or politically liberal or follow the Rede or Wiccan calendar. Or any other generalization you care to put in here.

Personally, I've never seen it as important (or accurate, for that matter). It comes up occasionally (and yes, this is one of those times on a blog I read and post on), but I really don't understand it mainly because I can't fathom me telling everyone what they believe, why/how they believe it and how they worship.

Why do you think it happens? What is your response/reaction and how do you handle it?

How is Spirituality Relevant to Anything?

Today I was journaling on the Earth element, coming up with all sorts of meanings and correspondences, and feeling like I was doing really well. Then a little voice interuppted my bliss to ask, " is this at all relevant to spirituality?"

Which then snowballed into, "How is this spirituality relevant to anything?"


No wonder I've had such a hard time actually practicing religion (though I'm good at studying it). I've not figured out how religion fits into everyday life. I know some people use religion to set their moral code, but I lived for over 20 years without religion and didn't steal anything or kill anybody. So I guess I don't need it for that.

Why is religion important to you? Why do you need it in your life? How exactly does it relate to every day tasks such as doing your job or shopping for groceries?

These are the questions I guess I need to answer myself, but I would like to hear your responses. And for those of you atheists hanging around, why DON'T you need religion? All points of views would be greatly appreciated.

Religion and Moral Codes?

A while back I was having a conversation with a (typically non-judgemental) Christian friend of mine who said to me that she believed a religion could not truely be a religion unless it had a set of moral codes. She said her moral codes were the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus in the New.

Consequently I am wondering, in your own religion do you have any moral code(s) that you try to stand by?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Important are Dreams to You?

How important are dreams to you? Religiously I mean.

Personally I dream often and in great detail. I don't often have dreams that I would consider to be predictive, and I have yet (I think) to have a Lucid dream. Still, Dreams seem to be very important to my religious practice, though I don't always understand how to utilize them. That's why I'm asking for some other perspectives on this. What type of dreams do you have? And how, if at all, do you make use of them?

Frustration and Not Finding the Words?

There are so many ways to go and things to learn in the pagan world. Personally I've found several areas that really interest me, and I've done my best to explore them. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on my beliefs and know enough about the beliefs of others that I don't generally sound like an idiot in polite conversations. And yet... I feel like there is something more that I need. The problem is that I just don't know what to ask or say anymore. I feel like I've discussed most of the things I really want to know with people, and I keep getting the same opinions and responses.

Does anybody else feel this way? Like they have a question but just can't find the words for it? Or maybe you just don't have any idea what it is that you are neglecting? How does one go about figuring that out? When your spiritual life starts to feel stagnant how do you stir things up?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What is Divination?

This might seem awfully basic, but I'm curious as to what you folks think separates divination from an educated guess? Is it the methodology used? Is it the content of the question, e.g., "what does the future hold" sort of question? Does it necessitate some sort of contact with spirits, or an altered state of consciousness? Is it related to psychic abilities?

Magic vs Religious Ceremony

This is a spin-off of the Medieval Spells thread.

Quote from: Star on Today at 01:08:25 pm:
You can find correlations and things that look similar to magic, but I find it a little offensive to insist that it's "really" magic even though they don't believe it is. (And just because it looks similar doesn't mean it's the same thing anyway, really.) Sort of along the same lines as fundies telling us that we "really" worship Satan, you know? If we don't want them redefining our religions for us, I think we ought to offer the same respect in return.
Okay, so what is the difference? I am asking this with no biases - can a religious Ceremony, even something so common and basic as Baptism or Communion qualify as Magic? If so, why? If not, why not?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Finding Time for Religion?

So, here I am in front of the computer. I'm nearly 20, wanting to venture into my religion more and more each day but not having the time to do so. I should, but I don't.

Why? I work like the rest of the (American) world, 45 hours a week. On top of that, I watch my close friends daughter quiet often as we live together. If I do have any time, my body is often going "DO NOTHING! REST!" at me, which I have to comply.

But, how did you as a young (or even later in life) find time in your hectic life to truly figure out your religion, to read and to actually do things such as your first casting?

Tarot and Poetry Analysis

I'm currently taking a confessional poetry class and we are covering Sylvia Plath. Knowing that Plath read tarot, one of my class members proposed that figures from tarot appear in the poem "The Bee Meeting". I would like it if you folks could take a look at the poem and see if you agree with this assessment. If you do agree, I would be interested to know what card you assigned to what characters or situations within the poem. Thanks!

Poem is here:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Offerings: A Question

Upon completion of a ritual last night, I suddenly found myself in a bit of a problem: I had no where for my offerings to go.

I live in an apartment, with no garden space or dirt to speak of, not even in the little courtyard. All of the parks that are convenient are very nice, but largely made of concrete, and the ones with a bit of earth, so to speak, are a fair distance away.

I don't want to leave my offerings just any old place, and I don't have anywhere nearby to burn them or bury them.

After a few moments, I couldn't think of anything else but to just put the offerings in the trash. I asked the spirits to whom the offerings belonged if that was okay, and I got the sense of "hmm... well, if you can't think of anything else... it's okay... but think of something else, eh?"

So. This is my question. Any of you urban pagans have the same problem, and if so, what do you do? Where or what are some good methods of... disposal--as it were--of offerings? Any suggestions or thoughts are much appreciated!

Divination Tools- What's Your Favorite?

I thought I'd ask this one because I work well with most divination tools except that I wont use a ouijah board at all. I use tarot, pendulum, crystal ball,tea leaves, runes and even on occasion dice and dominoes. I think the tarot is what I use most, and it depends on the question and my mood which I use. I've been doing divination most of my life and am usually very accurate when I do a reading for someone else. So what is your fave and why?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Conversations with the Gods?

For those people that have two way conversations with the Gods, I have a question, how do you know that what you are hearing is coming from an outside source and not a creation of your own mind.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bonfires, are they important aspects of your faith?

I was just curious, particularly with Halloween upon us, if bonfires are important to your specific and various faiths within Paganism? As someone born and raised in the U.S., here we always think of Paganism and bonfires going hand in hand, but I'm wondering how true this is. Are bonfires part of liturgical orders of worship, or are they just something nice to have?

Personally to me, bonfires are an important aspect of human life, but not necessarily for religious reasons. To me, standing or sitting around a campfire/bonfire is just part of being human, going back to our ancestors both modern human and other ancestors. There is some ancient connection between mankind and nature, and the past in a I live in the northwoods now, they are also a part of northern culture....I tend to have bonfires on specific days, like the hunter's moon, as well as religious feast days like Christmas etc...

Of course there are also religious reasons behind it too, as in some Slavic Orthodox Churches burn a Yule Log on Christmas Eve, thus keeping an ancient pagan tradition alive, but imbuing it with new meaning.

Anyways I guess I'm just interested in seeing how bonfires play a role in different types of Paganism, if at all...or are they just something you do for fun, with no religious significance at all?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wheel of the Year?

For me, the Wiccan Wheel of the Year doesn't fit right, so I am searching for an alternative
I was wondering if anyone would like to share their opinion or belief on the "wheel", "the cycle of Life", etc.

Pagan Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins (Jack-o'-lanterns) during this time of year is obviously a long-standing tradition and depending on who you ask could have origins in pagan religions like that of the ancient Celts. With that said, does anyone here carve their pumpkins for this time of year with a pagan theme or magick in mind? Maybe a deity, symbol, sigil, or any combination thereof? Maybe it's to put on your altar space or just to decorate your house/living space...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Divorce and Your Faith

What does your faith say about divorce? For example, is there a religious component of obtaining a divorce or otherwise formally severing a relationship? If so, what? Does your faith discourage divorce? Does your faith specifically outline circumstances in which divorce is an optimal choice?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Usefulness of Fast Days

Pretty much all the JCI faiths, and a lot of other groups have fast days as part of their religious rituals. I'm interested in getting your input.

1) Does your tradition include any sort of fasting?

2) If so, how do you feel the fast is useful to your spiritual development?

3) If not, why not, OR what drawbacks do you see to fasting?

Meditation and Focusing your Mind

I'd really like to know some of the tools, techniques, and resources you have used when first learning to meditate and focus your mind. I'm having terrible problems getting parts of my mind to shut-up!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What DON'T You Believe In...and Why Not?

"Paganism" being a broad umbrella term, one can read about all kinds of things at this site. I'm curious to get a sense of how widespread among Cauldronites certain beliefs are or aren't.

So what beliefs commonly held among pagans don't you subscribe to, and why not? This thread isn't meant to offend anyone who does believe in those things, so let's put the caveat up front that these are personal perspectives based on individual experiences and opinion. I just want to get a sense of where people's heads are.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ethics in Tarot Reading

For those of you who read Tarot, or have readings done, what sorts of ethical guidelines do you feel are important to the art? For example, what sorts of things do you feel a reader should never do? What sort of responsibility does a reader have to the querent? What are characteristics of an honest and responsible reader?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coping with Fear and Doubt?

I know that in the beginning of my study, I was afraid to do anything, even cast a circle (to this day I have only done it once). I know that other people are nervous at first, so if this has been your experience, how did you cope with this? And what of doubt? How did you get over the "I feel stupid" phase?

Neopagan Texts for Teens

I'm working on an article/conference paper concerning Neopagan texts (fiction and nonfiction) aimed specifically at teenagers -- $RW's Teen Witch, Manoy's Where to Park Your Broomstick, Rain's Spellcraft for Teens, and so forth. We're all familiar with $RW's nonsense (Frost Giants!), but I'm wondering what you all think of the general category of Neopagan -- almost always NeoWiccan -- books aimed at teenagers. Is there a need for such things? What are te benefits/drawbacks of specific books, or the genre as a whole? What would be an "ideal" text to introduce teens to Neopaganism (it can be an existing book, or a list of things you think an ideal book would contain)? What are some of the specific issues you think a Neopagan book for teens should address?

Universal Pagan Etiquette?

Just curious if there are written or unwritten rules about ritual etiquette when the meeting or class or ritual is held in someone's home?

What are the expectations of the host/ess? What are the expectations of the guests?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Technology Age Gods

Is it possible that there are new Gods that have formed with the changing world that we are not aware of or have over-looked?

Somehow I feel as though I have failed as a Pagan for always looking for a deity of the past when one appears to me. Surley there must be new God/Goddesses being born/created? Why have I always tried to assign a modern concept or thing (such as technology) to a deity of the past?

In my opinion a deity is the essence of a thing, force, or idea. Then it would stand to reason that there are new Gods. Why have I hesitated to seek them out for help? Possibly because I am seen as being flaky enough without going on an "in search of new Gods" type adventure? Or maybe because others might deem this as the stuff of "fluff-bunnies?" (a term I despise by the way)

Has anyone encountered what they suspect may be a "newer" technology age God?

Avatar Design Challenge #3: VOTE NOW!

It's that time again. This round's theme is FALL HARVEST. Please vote for an avatar based on
1) creativity/uniqueness,
2) adherence to the theme, and
3) 'artistic merit' (color, composition, and so on).

(Voting closes: October 22, 2007, 02:24:35 am)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Forgotten Gods

A frequent question I have noticed Cauldron members ask is in regards to what deity may be making an appearance to them. The most common reply is to simply ask that deity who they are. Perhaps that is the best anwser.

Often times when seeking to determine the identity of a deity we turn to books, other's opinions, web searches, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, and your deity in question may turn up there.

However, something I don't see addressed too often is the fact that there are hundreds of forgotten gods out there. There are Gods from civilizations long lost to us and Gods assimilated into other cultures and Gods trounced out by invasive religions.

A lost God or even a very obcure God wouldn't/couldn't immediately come to the minds of other Pagans or turn up in a basic reference search.

If you have the feeling that your deity may be from a lost culture or is a very ancient form of a deity, it then follows that you will have to ask a lot of questions of that deity (and I am sure the deity would be aware of the situation)

My question then is, besides meditation and having to over-burden such a deity with questions, what other methods can be used to gain insight into the situation? Has anyone personally experienced this situation?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Starting Young

With the increasing trend of "Wiccans" and "Pagans" beginning to follow their different paths earlier and earlier, often without supervision, I feel the need to wonder how many of these will continue into adulthood as sane, reasonable human-beings and remain a member of their chosen way.

I know I got started early, I started wondering when I was about fourteen and started practicing when I was six-teen. Unfortunately, I had no real mentors to guide me along, except for O' Invisible One, who I avoided like the plague. I really don't think I was ready, I understand things happen for a reason, and I love my relationship with Apollo (Let me rephrase that, right now I'm tired, grumpy, and severely disappointed with my own abilities and will-power; at least, I'm not running away from Apollo anymore. ) But I don't think I was really ready.

Even now at eighteen, when most young people are out with friends and having fun, I, by choice, am at home studying (sometimes) for both my religion/divination and college. But having all this pressure and responsibility is not fun. There are days when I'm arguing with my mentors, and grandparents, I wish I could just tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine and go off and have myself a good, petty sulk-fest. But then that would hurt their feelings and upset them and so I don't I put up with it until I break then we begin again. It's a horrible cycle, but until I get my own home, and can be more open with my spirituality I don't foresee any great change.

I'm not a masochist, and I would love to be one of those social butterflies, but that's not my lot. And I know that my hard work now will pay off later, it's just hard when I don't get to "see" the results.

But what about other teen "others"? Who do they have to look to and what are their chances to have a future as a well-balanced pagan adult?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Maintaining Everyday Mindfulness?

Shrines, altars and special jewelry are the three things that always come up when someone asks how they keep religion/faith present in their day to day lives. Besides these things, what do you do to maintain everyday mindfulness?

Religious Roles

I've been doing some path work stuff, and I've come across a spot much like one that the RCR SIG hit for a little bit- the idea of roles, or specialized paths, in religion. The ones that always come up are warrior and poet, and of course the priest/ess (in which sense I mean "servant" of the gods), the ritual leader, the healer, the artisan. But what other roles do you associate with religion? What roles do you see intertwined? (eg, poet & historian are essentially the same role to the Celts, but not necessarily for other paths.)

The main roles I could come up with are poet, artisan, historian, healer, diviner, seeker mentor, group leader, ritual leader, and hermit (though who really does that these days?)- what else would you add?

Help finding Deity

Okay, let me start by saying I am one of those people who has mostly subscribed to the whole poly-but-monotheistic approach. That many different Gods/Goddesses are all personifications of a 'The' God/Goddess which is the personification of Divinity as I choose to call it. I'm not saying this is 'right' or 'wrong', I'm not saying anything really, just that is the way I have seen things for a long time. It kind of helps because I am the type of person who likes to mix and match sometimes, so if a specific God/Goddess matches my purpose I appeal the Him/Her. I don't know if I will one day change this approach of not though.

I have for a long time, since I first started learning about witchcraft/paganism about 7 years ago, wanted to find a patron God/Goddess, or at least a group of deities to worship specifically. I found myself always most drawn to the Celtic Pantheon. But for some reason these deities always feel more abstract to me then the Greek Gods/Goddesses.

Most of all, though, I have always felt a pull towards The Morrigan. Honestly this scared me a little at first. I was coming from a Christian background, and my only references at that stage were SRW and other such fluffy information from the internet. So the idea that I could be most drawn to a Dark Goddess kinda freaked me out a little bit. So I pulled back I guess you could say, and I held off for a long time on forming any kind of bond with a specific deity. But now I find again, once I am a little more mature about things, that I lack, miss a relationship with Gods/Goddesses. And The Morrigan is still there in the back of my mind it seems, but I worry that maybe I have waited too long...

I worship nature, in my own way I guess, some days I just feel a pulse in the air, and there is life all around and I just feel surrounded by 'the magic of the earth' (sorry if that makes me sound incredibly childish).

So now to may actual question: What do I do? How does one find what deities would suit you best, and how does one make contact with them? I have tried asking whatever Gods/Goddesses I am meant to reach to contact me in my dreams, but I have not had any dream that could be taken as a message of sign. I am only now trying to learn to relax, never even mind meditation, it is probably one of the hardest things I find, so my attempts at contacting them through that have been non-existent.

Please could someone help me? I just need a bit of advice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tarot for Healing and Other Non-devination Purposes?

I recently learned that Tarot cards can be used for healing. Has anyone done this?

I would also like to know of any good resources on the subject. I have seen a few books around on this but don't want to waste my money on the wrong ones.

What other uses are there for Tarot cards besides divination that you may have tried?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Proper Cleansing of Ritual Tools?

I know the idea is generally that the tools should be "cleansed" of negative energy or influences before being introduced into ritual. Of course this is followed by the consecration of the tools, but I am not quite there yet, so I am focused right now on the removal of astral gunk primarily.

Now, I have looked on several websites and reading a couple of books and there are several methods suggested. One of the best seems to be burial in the ground (or in a bowl of dirt/sand if that's not possible) Another one is soaking in a bowl of salt water if the tool wouldn't be ruined in the process. Some people talk about smudging and I guess I could use that where other things are not sensible, i.e. for just my altar table since I can't exactly bury it.

One thing that seems to not be universally agreed upon is exactly how long this takes, and if it needs to be done at a certain time. For instance, in Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, Cunningham says a "few days" buried or a few hours in water should do it. One site I read suggested a month (!) or a year and a day (?!!?)... Others suggest doing it in particular moon phases and using that as the guide.

I get nervous about leaving anything underground for much longer than a few days, between the weather cooling down and the dirt/moisture caking/forcing things to rust, etc... but I also want to be sure the tools are cleansed and able to be properly consecrated for ritual use.

So what do you suggest? I really want to hold my own ritual for Samhain and do it right (at least the best that I can), so I feel like I'm working with time constraints. Plus I don't want the whole process to take months and months, but if I have no choice, then I have no choice.

One last question... For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occasions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is? I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical) What about candles?

Your advice is appreciated -- thanks!

How Much Belief Do You Need to Be a Wiccan?

I've got a question specific to Wicca, although other perspectives are welcome to. The question boils down to: how much belief do you need, and in what things, in order to consider yourself a believer?

This may sound like a navel-gazing question, but it's a very important one to me. Like many people who self-identify as pagan, I was raised Christian (Episcopalian, in my case) and left the church; however, my reasons were rather different from those of many ex-Christian pagans that I've met. While it seems many pagans came to a parting of ways with Christianity because of a fundamental disagreement with Christian practices rather than with Christ as such, I left a church whose practices and philosophy I found myself, overall, in strong agreement with. Instead, my disagreement was with the basic premise: I don't believe, and can't make myself believe, that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Thus, it's a matter of spiritual honesty for me: no matter how congenial the rest of the package might be, I can't call myself a Christian when I don't believe in Christ.

All well and good, but what that leads me to at present is wondering the same things about Wicca. Spiritually, I'm not a literalist, and I don't tend to believe that the divine behaves like human beings, only bigger. The ways of the divine are intermittently and imperfectly understood by us; the forms we worship it in have no literal existence. they? Christians believe that Christ was actually born and lived and died, and was the son of God. Wiccans believe in the Lady and the Lord -- two gendered forms of the divine, each of which has its various manifestations. So how much of this is literal, fundamental belief for a Wiccan? What does it mean for a deity to be female or male? Wiccans speak of a Horned God -- does that mean that, in order to be a Wiccan, one must believe in the literal truth of a god with horns on his head (or a god with a head, for that matter)? How much is metaphor, how much is literal corporeal truth, how much is spiritual truth that can take some corporeal form?

I do feel myself drawn to Wicca -- that is where this all comes from. But just as I was unwilling to be a cafeteria-style Christian (gimme the mac and cheese and the agape and skip the green beans and the son of God, please), so am I unwilling to call myself a Wiccan if I can't buy the essential parts of the package.

Living your Ethics?

Most religions have ethical strictures, either overt or covert.

What are your religion's ethical strictures? Do you live up to them?

If it's a recon religion, how have these strictures changed from before?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Could Deities Just be A Brain Function?

Are deities real or just an invention of the human brain? Why do some people have religious experiences and others don't?

From Scientific American:

Searching for God in the Brain

Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Yoga and Paganism

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices? If so, how do you go about this? Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?


Maybe this is a stupid question, but how do you chant something? Do you randomly make up a stepwise, flowing melody, or do you sing mostly in a monotone?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Story Contest Voting Begins

The four finalists in The Cauldron's short story contest have been selected. You can read them in this thread: Story Contest Final Four. Full Members can then vote for their favorite in this thread: Story Contest Poll.

The finalists are:

* A Harvest Home By Aisling

* Best In Show By Sefiru

* Life’s Struggles By EverFool

* After the Feast By Finn

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Opinion of Ellen Dugan?

What is everyone’s opinion of Ellen Dugan? Good, bad, so-so? I’ve never read one of her books but I’ve heard the name. She’s coming to my area to speak this month and next month and I’m wondering if I should make the effort to attend the lecture because it’s on a weeknight and I hate going out on a weeknight. Any opinion you have or if you’ve already met her would be great.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sealing a Staff

I've got a Pine staff that broke off a pine tree some years ago. Apparently before it did, I had carved my initials "CNG" into the bottom of it, then this girl broke it off with her head (I forget how that happened), it sat outside for a year and I was like "Wow, this thing isn't rotting...I have to keep it." So I did.

Well, I went camping this past summer to PSG (Pagan Spirt Gather, and everyone complemented me on it. Unknowingly to me, I also bought a off white robe and three different clear quartz crystals (various prices, various types) for it. Basically all it it lead into this Protection, so I'm like "Woh, you've got to be kidding me" cause I've always thought of my self as "my friends Guardian"

So, after that this woman told me how to seal the bottom of the staff and what to use to place my crystals on on top of it. I also bought some leather for a grip and quiet possibly the bottom of it also (soft brown leather, looks marvelous on it)

Now to my questions:

1. What can I use to seal the bottom?
2. Since the top should be sealed with whatever I use to hold the crystals in place, what should I use to hold the crystals in place?
3. Do you know of any sort of sigils/symbols I can place with in this staff? What ever it is, I can likely hold it in place with the leather or add something to this.

The Problem with the Joe Campbell Monomyth?

I've been scratching my head over some observations I've read here regarding problems with the J.Campbell "monomyth" theory. This idea has entered popular culture (especially where people are concerned with mythology) but it seems to have some major flaws.

My question is--what is wrong with the monomyth theory? (Not contesting here, just seeking information.)

Catja9 in particular had some very intriguing things to say regarding this and I'd like to hear more; of course anyone else who knows more about it is welcome to help lighten my ignorance around the subject.

Any additional reading regarding this you could direct me to would also be welcome.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Coven Experiences?

Part of the reason I've wandered onto this forum is to try and find more people to glean information from about the workings of covens. I've been involved in an open circle for a couple of years but recently one of my friends and I have decided to form a small coven. We felt this was really the next logical step in our paths, where we can learn and practice together, at our pace, which is a bit faster than that of most of the people in our open circle.

Some info I'm particularly interested in is on degree systems. We've sort of laid out a degree system that will help us build a nice solid foundation from which we can grow, and that will help us stay on track and achieve some definite benchmarks that we've set for ourselves. The degree system is mostly for that reason (and I like the traditional aspect of a degree system), not so much to work as a hierarchy amongst coven members. My biggest question is, for anyone who has worked in a coven with degree systems: what sort of criteria had to be met to officially go onto the next degree? How did you know when you were ready to move from a 1st degree to 2nd degree?

Any other practical tips for group work would also be appreciated!

To Initiate or Not to Initiate?

I have been on a Pagan path nearly three decades now. Life events and availablity of open covens have kept me in Solitary practice or at best in the outer Court of covens whom I celebrated with.

I have found a coven willing to intiate me. They are an airplane ride away, and the understanding is I am getting intiated for the experience as opposed to becoming a member of their Tradition, which although has a lot of similarities to my own practice, also is missing major part of my path which are inherent to my practice.

I do know that no matter the reasons for my being accepted for initiation, I will have to confront and deal with my Shadow Side as a result of follwoing this course of action. The idea of dealing with the issues I have not dealt with so far in my shadow work is to say the least a bit frightening for me. And acceptance of this work wil be necessary if I am to progress forward with this choice.

If I decide to move forward, the event will happen in about a year.

So, I waffle between yes, I want to do this; and no, what's the point, I am way beyond first degree work anyway.

If you were in my place what would your choice be and why (or why not)?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Herbs, Botanicals and General Smelly Stuff

I'm attempting to compile a list of various herbs and their uses (medicinal, magickal etc.) and also their effects (on stuff like perception, healing, energies etc.). Anyone want to lend a hand?

Releasing/Activating Spells

Once you've done a spell, how exactly can you release it or activate it? Does it do it on its own? If not, are there ways of doing it that are better for certain types of spells than others?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Oaths and Promises

I was just curious generally as to other people's takes on oaths and promises since I imagine plenty of people have them, even if no-one other than them knows them so I figured I'd bounce it out and see what happens. (Specifics are not required unless you're willing and/or at liberty to share, obviously)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Clergy (and Others) as Intercessors

In the What is clergy? thread, an idea that came up a few times is the rejection of the role of "clergy as intercessor" and affirmation that we can talk to and experience the gods ourselves, without need of a "priest" of any kind.

However, traditional cultures often have a place for spiritual professionals (shamans and so forth) whose job is very much intercessory, relaying messages from the spirits and interacting with the spirits on behalf of others. In the pagan community, people often consult respected diviners for guidance and assistance in determining what course of action is likely to be most spiritually appropriate or rewarding. While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

Favorite Stone for Psychic Abilities?

I'm wondering if anyone has particular stones that they feel enhance psychic abilities, including empathy, telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudiance, and the ability to reach trance states.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pagan "Ancestors"?

Some folks in my church are putting together a prayer which honors various people whose actions or words have influenced and shaped the Neo-Pagan community. It is part of a praise of the ancestors thing. After some dithering between us of who ought to make it onto the list, I was wondering if some folks here had suggestions. They can be modern folks or ancestors long past, but since it is an ancestral thing, they all do have to be dead. (We've gotten a lot of suggestions for peope who are still alive!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Summerland and Reincarnation

With Samhain quickly approaching, I've been thinking a great deal about what happens to us after death. This is the time of year when the veil thins, and those with mediumistic talent attempt to contact ancestors and others who have gone on. However, many pagans also subscribe to belief in reincarnation. How does one reconcile these two set of "beliefs"?

Is a part of your soul and your personality archived away in the Summerland, for your descendants to contact and seek guidance/protection of?
Are you fully reincarnated, and when the living try to contact the dead - are they summoning something else? A thoughtform? a spirit of some kind?
Is past life regression work worthwhile?

Just curious what everyone thinks about this.

Alex Sanders -- What Do You Think?

What does everyone think of Alex Sanders? Right after Gerald Gardner he is probably the next most important name in Wicca, the father of the Alexandrian Tradition which is the only other tradition besides Gardner's that is accepted as "British Traditional Wicca." Contrary to what some sites say, it was not named for him, but rather the Library of Alexandria (Egypt), which apparently was at one time a literal treasure trove of esoteric knowledge.

I have done some reading and have more books on the way however I did not know how he was viewed in general by the general pagan or Wiccan communities. It seems like he was one of the first (or THEE first) people to incorporate Wicca into the greater Western Magickal Tradition by incorporating types of ceremonial magick and Qabalah (among other things) into Wiccan practice. This is something that it seems like a lot of modern covens do but by most accounts it seems like he was the first to break the mold, so to speak.

Of course, there is a bit of controversy surrounding him, regarding claims he made about being a hereditary witch (from what I understand he later admitted these were false), and also how he obtained his Book of Shadows which was apparently pretty similar to Gardner's.

Either way, from most accounts it seems like he was a genuine clairvoyant and worked magick that was quite real, so I was interested to hear your opinions on one of Wicca's more controversial figures, though to be fair, most are a bit controversial regardless. I am particularly interested since a couple of my favorite books about Wicca are written by his personal students (Stewart & Janet Farrar) and he did apparently leave the Craft under uncertain circumstances, though from what I understand his famous high-priestess Maxine Sanders still practices and actually has her own book (her second?) coming out in November.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ethics & The Use of Magic

The Hex thread touches on ethics and the use of magic... what's considered appropriate under what circumstances, what guidelines we as individuals use in choosing to use magic, and what limits we place on ourselves magically. It seems to me the subject deserves its own thread, so here it is!

Let's look at this from the standpoint of teaching someone young and new to magic.

* If you were the teacher, would you include ethics in your lessons?
* Do ethics even have a place in magical practice?
* What ethical principles, rules, and guidelines are important in magic?
* What ideas are nice guidelines, but not really rules to live by, in your opinion?
* What should be magically taboo, if anything? Are there circumstances when a normally taboo spell might be acceptable?
* What words of wisdom would you give to a novice in helping them make decisions about what is ethical and appropriate?
* Related but not directly about ethics, is there an appropriate escalation of action or spells when dealing with a problem? Is there a specific sequence of steps that you take when confronted with a problem?
* If you are young and new to magic, what questions or concerns do you have about ethics as they relate to magic use?

These are just a few questions to get everyone thinking. Please add others to the thread as you think of them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tarock for Divination?

Can Tarock cards be used for divination, or only Tarot cards?

I ask as I have never used Tarot cards for divination and recently came across a vintage set of Tarock cards for sale that I had a vague memory of playing with as a child. These cards were very well worn exactly as the ones I had played with had been. The numbers, the art , and the style of the clubs, everything was the same. I remembered as a child not knowing what the numbers were used for. I didn't buy that set, but I did purchase an identical vintage set of unused cards. I didn't want the used set because I hoped the cards could be used for divination.

A sticker on their boxes said they were a souvenir of Nebraska. They are Czech Tarock playing cards. I had older cousins who's father was originally from Nebraska. Two of those cousins have since passed on.

If it is possible, I would like to try to use these cards for divination.

Famous Curses from Fiction

In honor of the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, I was listening to a recording of my favorite opera, Verdi's Rigoletto, in which Pavarotti sang the role of the Duke. (It's an amazing performance, BTW.) A curse sets the action in motion for the opera, and that (along with something I'm writing) got me thinking...

...In what other famous works (books, movies, art, opera, whatever) do curses figure prominently?

Aside from the aforementioned Rigoletto, Tolkien's Silmarillion has the Doom of Mandos that was pronounced on the Noldor. And doesn't Alberich curse the ring in Das Rheingold? Is that just in the opera, or is that part of Norse mythology?

And, in a separate but related category, there are famous curses in religion. (It would be wrong to call it "fiction," since to somebody somewhere it's truth...or else it wouldn't be religion.) I'm not familiar enough with the Judeo-Christian bible to know offhand, but I'm sure there are some major curses in there. And all those Greek myths where someone is "cursed by the gods"! (Sisyphus, Narcissus, and Prometheus qualify, I believe.)

I'm particularly interested in works where the curse isn't some ambiguous condition, but rather something that someone actually utters against someone else.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cleansing and consecrating sacred space

I am disabled with a severe spine disease which at times leaves me unable to move by myself for some time. Generally I can move about on my own but have had to curtail many activities that I've enjoyed all my life such as horseback riding and snowshoeing amongst others. I have four grown daughters the youngest just starting college this year.

I have a couple of questions which I hope someone can answer for me. I have read 14 books which I am told are considered to be very good amongst the mountains of them available. I will just mention a few to give an idea of what knowledge I have so far acquired. I have read Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler, The Spiral Dance and The Earth Path by Starhawk,A Circle of Stones by Erryn Rowan Laurie,Bucklands Complete Book of Withcraft, A Witches Bible by the Farrars, and A Witch Alone by Marian Green. I have gotten a great deal out of these and the rest I have read but they have left me with many questions, two of which I need answered, I feel, in order to go on. I will most likely remain solitary due to personal preference and my disability. I feel it might not be possible to due my rightful share in a group due to my disabiltiy.

Question 1: Is there a set amount of time I should continue book reading and studying before I can start to do small things such as asking for help with things I don't understand as well;and creating,cleansing, and consecrating sacred space and tools?

Question 2: I realize that some things will have to be adapted because of my disability but I am unsure what and how to adapt. Like in cleansing and consecrating sacred space. All the books say that you need to throughly scrub the whole room where you will be creating your space. Okay, I can do some, like windows and vacuuming(maybe) but can not do the ceiling and walls as suggested. If I did that I would be laid up for some time. How can I get around this and still have it all be okay?

I am not just skimming these books I have been studying them and continually going back and re-reading things I don't get so easy until I do. I have never been in a rush to do anything in life for the most part. I have always been more concerned with getting something right over getting it done quick. I really feel I am ready for more than just studying now although I will continue of course to study and learn always. It's just a part of who I am to study, I have all my life.

I would greatly appreciate any and all thoughts on this matter as well as suggestions to more worthy reads. I have read most of what I have and will be wanting to order soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Do You Wish You Hadn't Read?

As inspired by the "What are you not reading" thread.

That thread is all well and good when you have advance notice of a book's awfulness. But what if you were halfway through before its awfulness became apparent?
... you were required to read it for work or school?
... you were lured by a deceptive cover or description?
... you read it to see if it really was that awful?
... you were deeply, horribly let down by the ending?

This is the thread for you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why Do Some Gods Recieve More Attention?

In the pagan community today it’s easy to notice a trend in what deities are most often chosen for worship, here on the Cauldron Apollo appears to have a surprising number of us wrapped around his finger. His twin, Artemis, and her Roman equal, Diana, are also very popular having an entire group formed around what they represent. But they aren’t alone; Hecate, Athena, Brigid, The Morrigan, and many others have found popularity with today’s pagan population.

My question is why them? Of course all of them are great, but why are they singled out to be worshipped? Is there something about them that draws people to them or are they just more active about requiting followers?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Advice on using the Tarot

Recently I got rid of a deck of Tarot cards that didn't work well with me at all. They were cheap and were part of a gift that someone gave me in a "learn Tarot!" kit. I loved that someone bought it for me, but that deck never gave me clear or even discernible answers, even though I'd had it for three or four years.

My question is, was it that the deck and I didn't work well together, or that Tarot's just not my thing? I already use the I Ching, which I love because it gives me clear, concise answers constantly. I am interested in Tarot; I just don't know if it works with me or if it was just the deck used.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Help with Charging Stones and Crystals

I know there are tons of resources on the net about this and I have started to look at some, but as with many things the sheer amount available of information can be very over whelming.

Can anyone please give me some good advice on where to find good reliable information on how this is done? Or if you would like/ wouldn't mind sharing some of your own experiences that would be great too. I am really trying to learn more about communicating/understanding stones more, especially since I have started to become interested in and started to learn more about Lithomancy.

Please, any advice/help/comment would be appreciated.

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