Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Now Hiring: God or Goddess of Democracy?

Does anyone know of a God or Goddess primarily associated with the voice of "the people" when it comes to the citizenry's interaction with their government?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Asatru on YouTube

I was searching around on YouTube yesterday evening (looking up this and that.. with no particular destination in mind.. well I started looking up funny stuff, moved on to ghost-evp-hauntings stuff, then I had a thought to look up Asatru) and there is a guy, Mike Smith from New Hampshire, who is doing a series on Asatru, and what it's about, including Gods and Goddesses, the Norns and concepts of time, terminology etc. I found them to be quite informative.

So far he has posted 5 different videos, most of them are pretty long (like 10-15 minutes long) so if you have dial-up you may want to consider downloading it to your PC.

Anyway, here is the first introduction video to the series:
What is Asatru? Series Introduction

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sacred Geometry, Anyone?

I just scanned the Cauldron's article index without finding anything about sacred geometry. While it's not exclusively pagan, it is rather esoteric and I would think it would appeal to some folks in this forum. (I personally find myself constantly intrigued by it, though I don't know much.)

So is anyone else out there interested in this subject? Can anybody recommend any good texts about it?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Anthropomorphizing Deities?

I've been thinking a lot about the different ways people conceptualize deities. We've been talking quite a bit lately about how people develop relationships with deities and communicate with them -- or not.

I'm interested in whether and how folks conceptualize gods and goddesses in anthropomorphic form.

I know this question is wrapped up a lot in whether you are hard polytheist, soft polytheist, somewhere in between, or something else entirely.

Me, I'm just a flake. Sometimes I'm hard polytheist, sometimes soft (I believe Sunflower referred to this as being a scrambled polytheist), and sometimes I think of deities (or mine, at least) more as energies or ideals or something, rather than in anthropomorphic form.

So, in my never ending quest to clarify my own thinking, I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this.

Making Oils?

I was wondering( since i can't find much on internet ) how to make like oils? I really want to make a catnip oil for my cat and maybe a little thing of sage oil. Does anyone know how?

Letting Candles Burn Out?

I have been looking into candle magic, and have a question. Do you have to leave the candle(s) burn out in one sitting, or would it suffice to burn them a bit, put htem out, and then burn them again on a later date until they burn out? Also, say for magic in which, for example, you write down what you want, focus your intent and then burn the paper, do you still leave the candle burn out, and if not can you use it again for other spells?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Making a Staff?

I've got a sassafrass sappling with the root that I am carving into a staff. I pulled it from a sassafrass grove that has hundreds of little sapplings around three large sassafrass trees. They stand at the top of a hill in a cattle field.

Not long after gathering the staff, I ran across a rather large amethyst crystal with a tapered root that would be a perfect fit for the top of the staff. So much to the point that my gut told me that it was "perfect" for my staff.

But I am not sure about the compatibility between amethyst and sassafras. I see sassafras as having a Mars energy (sources I've found say Mercury and Jupiter), or perhaps draconian. Amethyst is, in general, a more subtle energy when used in jewelry. But in the past I've found Amethyst points great for drawing large amounts of energy and directing it, much like quartz, but the "suction" (for lack of a better word) is a lot greater than that of clear quartz.

I'm not even sure of the qualities of sassafras other than as root bark to brew tea from or burn as incense for healing or money. Does the wood have different qualities than the root bark?

If anyone here makes staffs (staves?), I'd appreciate general wood carving advice, advice on use and care, and ideas that I may be able to add to my overall design. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What If You Don't Have Supplies?

I've been looking into a couple of simple bits of magic and spirit work. My question is; Can you still do it if you don't have all the supplies. My parents know what I am, but any mention of it sends them over the edge. That makes it kind of hard to say," Hey dad, while you're at the store can you buy me a bunch of candles and some herbs?" Can you replace some of it or visualize it? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Actions - Religious or not Religious?

This is a spin off of a spun off thread about religious actions. I wrote in response to Randall

1) repeatability - ones does the same thing, in roughly the same way on a regular basis.

2) purpose - one does an action or says something for a purpose that is specifically related to the religious experience.+++

I had trouble getting #2 to sound right, and I'm still not happy with it. I think a few examples might help to explain why an action could be either religious or could be non-religious.

Candles. Lighting candles is very common in a number of religions around the world. It is also common means of light, especially mood lighting.

I contend, that for lighting candles to be a religious action, that there has to be more than just lighting a candle. Options include, but are not limited to:

- lighting a candle in front of a religious object. such as statue, picture, symbol, idol.

- saying a prayer (even silently) when lighting the candle, whether before, during or afterward.

- using the candle in a religious ritual, even if only for light. such as a candle lit procession into a religious ritual, or to light the ritual area specifically in lieu of electric light.

Just lighting candles in various rooms without this something else is not a religious action. It's something else, maybe psychological or mood.

Other such examples might include drumming.

A counter example would be offerings. It's an offering to leave food out, or pour it on the ground when done like the above candle. It's laziness or littering to just leave it outside or pour it down the drain.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Where Do Non-Worshippers Go?

So, assuming that the afterlife exists, where do people go that don't worhsip a deity? This might be atheists, agnostics, or just folks that believe the gods exist and never worshipped or professed allegiance to any of them.

The Appearances of Religion?

In another thread, Peter said the following about his children: "I've never gotten them to really do anything that appears religious within any kind of pagan context."

I saw this comment and my mind wandered off in a completely different direction from Peter discussion of whether or not non-practicing people really are part of their religion.

"Appears religious"?

Do our concepts of what a religion is and what it does limit our ability to "see" some things as religion? More importantly, do these concepts limit our ability to interact with some deities?

We humans seem to have a fairly set notion of what a religion should be like -- but does our idea of what a religion needs to be like stem from the needs of the Gods or from our human needs?

Given the large number of very different Gods, it seems odd to me that they would all want basically the same type of religion from their followers. Perhaps they do, but what if they don't? Could some of the disconnection we humans feel from our gods come from trying to make them fit into our "this is what religion is like" box?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Belief but not Deeds?

Can one be pagan (yeah, I know it's not a single religion) via beliefs but not actually do anything in terms of ritual, prayers, worship, or such?

How about other religions? at what point does lack of "religious worship actions" make one not of that religion / not an active / lapsed member?

Effective Meditation -- Getting Your Brain to Turn Off?

I've been struggling with being able to meditate effectively for what seems like EONS now, and I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for me. I can never seem to get my conscious mind to calm down and shut up and focus on the meditation... I always seem to be distracted by thoughts of work or family or "oops! I forgot to take out the trash!", etc. etc.

I've tried using guided meditation CD's and audio books, and that seems to help quite a bit, but I still don't feel like I'm all the way there... any tips? They'd be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fire Deities?

Does anyone know of any deities who are specifically/only related to fire? The only one I can think of is Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, but I'm sure there are others.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Music for Ritual?

This is a question for those of use who use music in ritual. What are your favorite CDs - the ones that get you in that space?

Human Sacrifice in Ancient Religious Practice?

The ancient practices often includes strange things for today,like human sacrifice. How should this be interpreted? If the gods were formerly pleased by this kind of rituals, why are they so "friendly" today? I guess most of the pagan community today is worshiping gods of Celtic or Norse origins. And we all know about the Celtic sacrificial pyres or the hanging sacrifices to Odin etc. So would it be...unethically to worship the ancient gods? Or the people then were wrong? I guess that all the gods were offered the war victims as a gift, even the so called good gods, because even fertility cults included life-gifts for continuity etc. And if those people were wrong, why did the gods not stopped them?

And anyway, what would a god do with a dead guy? what should his energy or his soul serve to? i can understand the purpose of the human sacrifice at the Dacians, where the victim would sacrifice himself willingly to take the people's prayers and askings to Zalmoxis. But the post-war sacrifices, what did they served for?

And most of all, how should we see this today? Should we accept it as a dark side of a cultural phenomena we are into or should we blame it as wrong? Or simply try to forget about it and speak no more in order not to cause trouble and possible attacks from non-pagan communities?

What happens to the gods when Cultures Merge

What happens to the gods when cultures are merging or groups are breaking? (Like the Indo-Europeans who migrated in all directions so what in Europe is Jupiter in India is Dyaus the sky god. Are these god-figures still the same unique god?)

If a group of people would worship a god and the group splits, they start to name him in different ways, they add him different elements from the new cultures they meet. After that is that god the same for the two groups?

Or take this example:there was an ancient Mongolian sky god, Tangri. As the time passed, people there started to believe that Tangri is a group of gods, not one god. So they worshiped at some moment 99 different Tangris.

This is my question: what happened to that god? what is happening to any god when people forgets him or adds him characteristics of other foreign god? Or misunderstands what he is? does he still have any influence? Does he change in conformity to people's view?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Virtue of Truth?

Marcus Aurelius wrote that "if anyone can show me, and prove that I am wrong, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never hurt anybody."

I've been thinking about these words in more detail, and I have to disagree with Marcus that "truth never hurt anybody."

I'm sure that the majority of all people consider truth / honesty to be a virtue (or a good thing), and, generally I'm sure that we can all agree that lying is generally wrong.

But is it wrong all the time? If a wife asks her spouse- "does this make me look fat?" And her spouse lies and says no (assuming that this is a lie), was this the wrong thing to do?

We withhold the truth from each other all the time. How many times have you not told people exactly how you feel? I think that we all hide our true thoughts from people in order to preserve tranquility. For example, a friend of mine is married, but I've become sexually attracted to her. Since disclosing my true feelings will ruin our friendship, or at least make things really awkward, I do not disclose the truth. Is this the right thing to do?

And don't we often lie to ourselves? Epictetus said that "the simple-minded will interpret events in the grossest terms- success, failure, good, bad. What is a good event? What is a bad event? There is no such thing!" So isn't this a process of deluding ourselves? If bending and changing actual events can help view life in a brighter light, is this not bending the truth?

I think that truth is not totally absolute. If lying to someone prevents anguish (like the wife scenario) then it is not a bad thing. If lying to yourself adds to your own tranquility of mind, then I would say that is okay if it doesn't damage anyone else. But if you lie to get yourself out of trouble, or if you lied to get something that you wanted, then that is not virtuous at all.

What have you learnt at TC?

So, I've been kicking around at TC for a while now, and I got to thinking, wow, I've learnt quite a lot since I've been here. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think I know everything about everything. It would probably be more accurate to say that I know nothing about anything :O) But I was wondering, what have other people learnt here at TC?

Eg. When I first came to TC, I had had very little exposure to Christianity (hard to believe right?), but what I had been exposed to was the unpleasant fundie form of Christianity. I have learnt from being at TC that Christianity in all it's forms (except warped fundyism) is a religion that I have respect for. It isn't a fit for me, but it was a big learning curve for me being here at TC. This is only one of the things I have learnt from TC, just an example, but I think it might be an interesting topic, so I'm hoping I get some replies.

So, does anyone have anything that they would like to share about what they've learnt at TC?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Choosing a Tarot Deck: Advice?

As some of you may know, I've had problems with tarot in the past, but I've been feeling lately that I should start over and get a deck again.

I've been poking around online looking at decks, and I'm considering the Hanson-Roberts as a starter. Is this a good choice? I'm looking for something fairly "standard", but I've never liked the Rider-Waite; it makes me feel sad whenever I look at the cards. The Hanson-Roberts looks like the imagery is similar, but it doesn't feel as desolate.

I'm planning to spend a long time handling and studying the cards before I attempt to use them for divination.

I absolutely fell in love with the Cagliostro deck as soon as I saw it, but it's probably not a great choice for a beginner. *drool* *sigh*

I know some of you guys are experienced with tarot, and I would really appreciate any advice you would be willing to give me in choosing a deck.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cultural Misappropriation?

There's something that's been bugging me on and off for a long time, so I thought that I would ask people here what they thought about it. The thing is that, in some online communities, I have come across people who felt that anyone attempting to worship gods of another culture is appropriation, eclectic (used in a derogatory fashion), or "all paths lead into one" fluffy-ism. While I feel that a person who wants to fully participate in their own culture and strengthen it against modern commercialism, bad stereotypes, etc. (y'know, problems Irish culture faces), I find myself hugely, largely in disagreement about some of their accusations of "cultural misappropriation". Obviously, certain things always have and always will be cultural misappropriations, but I don't think that most of us who worship the gods of another culture are just a bunch of cultural thieves. Seriously, are we anything like, say, people who pay for the services of fake shamans, for example? I think not.

Personally, I worship Gaelic gods. I'm part Irish in my blood, but let's face it, I'm not even Irish-American, just plain ol' American. There are some things I want to do, like read more Irish history and lore and learn more Gaeilge, but I've got college to contend with... along with a mandated one year in a language they teach there, so yeah, I'm taking Japanese. That's just how it is. And if I went to Ireland (I do want to, BTW), my first stop wouldn't be to go do something uber-folksie Irish... no, I'd go see a metal show, get plastered, get to know some of the locals, and traipse around the island, repeating in that order. So ha!

I guess that, in the end, I go for a mixture of modern American culture, regional peculiarities, my American metal music subculture, and some Irish cultural influences, though not many. I don't "compartmentalize" though... for me, it all fits together quite nicely.

Thwapping as Disrespect?

There's something I've been wondering about since I first began to read the Cauldron, and that is the concept of "thwapping" that is very often spoken of. It's something that seems incredibly odd to me and can occasionally come off as disrespectful to the Gods (at least in the way I see things). For example, things like a recent thread on the Morrigan where the poster wrote:

"Now she is talking directly to me and I haven't even 'officially' acknowledged her yet."

Now, my gut reaction is to wonder how a Goddess is going to hang around someone like a jilted girlfriend/boyfriend waiting for a mortal to "acknowledge" them, but I'm not interested in making value judgments on other peoples' concepts of and relations with any deities, as that really isn't any of my business. What I am interested in, however, is asking some questions about the concept.

The first thing I'm wondering is what sort of concept of Deities do people who believe in these "thwappings" hold? By that I mean, are they a part of your own mind/higher soul/etc. that is speaking to you? Are they *literal* beings communicating with you (and somehow find the time to do so a *lot* while also doing so with someone else at the same time, a sort of omnipresence?)? Are they aspects of nature that relate to you somehow? Or are they some completely different option that I haven't mentioned?

The second thing I'm wondering is why you (general "you," as in people who believe in "thwappings") believe Deities "thwap" you at all, as in what do you think their motivations are? Is it simply to gain more followers? If so, why do they need more followers enough to personally "thwap" each and every one of them? Is it because you personally have some quality that they're fond enough of that they just *have* to communicate with you on a regular basis? If so, why would they do that instead of something more important or "cosmic"? Do they "thwap" people because they want certain causes adopted or want things *done* in the world? If that's the case, why aren't there any "thwapped" followers of Gods making *substantial* changes to things like negative globalisation, hunger, etc.?

Going on the basis of someone who literally believes in the existence of the Gods (at least "my" Gods, the Germanic ones) and on the attitudes that some of the ancient peoples that these Gods are drawn from had, is it possible for such a concept to be insulting or offensive towards the Gods? I'm no expert on Greek religion, but I think I'd be referring to the concept of "hubris" which many people in Greek lore were punished by the Gods for. Even if we're speaking of devoted, solemn experience of a Deity, does anyone feel it is disrespectful or "blasphemous" (for lack of a better term) to speak of such a holy experience in frivolous terms?

Many of these questions are based on my own suppositions and reactions to this concept, so many of them may be inaccurate. I'm also not entirely able to keep out my own understanding and view of things from how I word it, but I'm genuinely wondering about this.

Baptism & Initiation

So, I'm working on my whole path building business, and I get to the question in my FAQ asking if initiations are required. The first thing that springs to mind is "well, sort of- you have to be baptized". And then I thought, crap, where did that come from?

So: for those of you that have experienced either baptism, initiation, both or even neither- what differences between the two do you see? What is necessary for them? What kinds of things do they mark? (I may add more questions later if I figure out how to articulate them properly, which I seem to be having problems with at the moment. Le sigh.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Difference Between New Age and pagan?

I've seen a few references to "New Age" recently phrased in a way that brings up this question: What's the difference between "New Age" and "pagan" practices?

Gardens 2007

So for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it's garden planning time! The seed catalogs are in full swing. This year, I'm taking the Master Gardener class through the county extension, so I'm even MORE gardeny than normal (we start classes in January so we're ready to be useful right as the season gets into full swing in April -- this is also why I'm more than 50 posts behind on multiple threads and sorry if I suck about replying to anyone!).

What do you have planned for your garden this summer???

It's bitterly cold here, so warm me up with visions of gardens to be!

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