Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Worst Pagan Book?

Aside from the part where I like bad books - well some of them - what is the single worst book you've come across?

Of the few that I actually own now, I have to nominate The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic for pure wrong information.

Pagan Pride

First, let me say that I'm very mindful of the issues surrounding the word "Pagan". Let me also say, that for me, it is a useful descriptor (one among many) that helps me understand who I am and how I move through the world in relation to other people.

OK, that said, I'm wondering what folks here think of Pagan Pride events.

As most of you know, I have always worked in the area of social justice, and I very recently started a job as the policy director of a national social justice/education organization. This organization deals directly with a group that has been marginalized by society, and is definitely "the outsiders."

I attended an annual event this past weekend, during which I found myself substituting "religious bias" in my head, every time someone talked about any other kind of bias (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, etc.). And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have the right to be who I am, wherever I am. Period.

Yeah, I know: Duh.

Anyway, I came home very energized on a personal level as well as a professional level. I'm interested in working on religious rights -- and I have the skills to really make a difference. I'm a professional advocate, lobbyist, advocacy trainer, and lawyer.

Nevertheless, I have some concerns about the way the "Pagan Community" approaches the issue (please notice the quote marks -- I don't want to revisit the issue of whether there IS a pagan community -- for these purposes, I believe there is perceived to be one). Even so, I think I'm going to volunteer to help out with DC's annnual Pagan Pride Day. At the very least, I'll get a closer look.

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? Warnings? Encouragements?

Monday, July 30, 2007

What Was Your Biggest Magical Mistake?

I thought it might be useful for the newer witches/magicians if the more experienced folk in here contributed to a list of magical mistakes they've made (come on, admit it, we've all had our fingers burned).

Automatic Writing Book?

I am looking for a decent book on the subject of automatic writing, not necessarily a 'how to' book but more of a general study on the subject with history, uses in both science and magic, pioneers and so on. Any suggestions please?

Divination Before Rituals?

I believe it's very important to do some form of divination before a ritual to see if it's really necessary.

Does anyone else use this safeguard?

Celtic Myth Dictionaries

As far as I can tell, there are three "dictionaries" of Celtic mythology that are good, reliable sources:

Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, by Peter Berresford Ellis
Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, by Miranda J. Green
A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, by James MacKillop

Can anyone compare and contrast these books? Recommendations?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tarot Card Differences: The Devil

I currently have two tarot card decks: one is The Witches Tarot and the other is The Quest.

The little book for the Witches Tarot claims that pagans do not believe in the devil hence this is why there is no "Devil" card in this deck however in The Quest deck there is a Devil card which indicates "Temptation".

My question is from what premise does the creator of The Quest deck define the cards? Is it truly from a "Pagan" view? (As I understand, "pagan" basically refers to "non-Christian" religions and traditions.)

What particular "Pagan" tradition, if any, is he basing this devil card from?

Yes, I realize I risk sounding like an ignorant child but I was pondering this and I am not sure I ever heard of the "devil" ever really being referred to in Wicca and Witchcraft.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Term "Witch"?

I know that there are some people on here that have been in Wicca for a long time (the beginning?). I have been wondering why they would choose to call themselves a witch? Wicca was created in the last century so they could have used any term to describe themselves, but they chose a word that already had negative connotations. Now they spend all there time defending themselves. "We are not evil." "Not that kind of witch." etc. Just saying 'Wiccan' should have been fine. Nice, obscure, had no prior baggage. I've even seen references to a whole debacle with BTW fighting that "we are the one, true witches, all others are posers" so that people decided to call themselves Wiccan to avoid it (and now they are on the "we are the one, true Wiccans, all others are posers").

Wouldn't it just have saved time and energy if they didn't try to redefine or clean the rep of the term 'witch' in the first place?

Any history on the decision to use the term 'witch'?

Belonging to a Deity

There have been a few (ok more than a few) times I've read on the board about people "belonging to" a Deity or a group of them. I have a few questions about this, if I may:
Note: I'm putting "belong to" in quotation marks because I'm not sure if I'm using the correct term.

1) How did you know that you "belonged" to this or these Deity?

2) What does "belonging to" a Deity entail?

3) Is it possible to "belong to" an Element?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shamanism Books?

Is anyone familiar with either of these books?:

Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, by Tom Cowan

Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasies, Alternative Archeologies, and Contemporary Pagans, by Robert J. Wallis

If so, any comments?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Altars and Simplifying

I have a...altar?...shrine?...shelf for Brighid. It currently has about a dozen candles and oil lamps, as well as an aloe plant, an offering bowl, an offering cup (for Irish Mist), a pottery piece I use in my morning purification ritual, and a number of stones and crystals.

I think it's gotten redundant. I don't need all these candles -- because I AM the offering to Brighid. In her own words to me, "I can play these strings like a harp"; I am Her harp, Her instrument, Her tool -- and a harp does not need a lot of trappings. Tools don't need tools.

I need to simplify my altar and get it in order, and I think it's a metaphor for needing to simplify and get my life in order -- at least in regard to my path. I've been feeling torn in so many directions lately. There's so much to learn and I want to learn it all NOW.

So, I think I'm going to simplify my altar, as a exercise that I can then apply to my spiritual life.

Anyone in a similar situation? Thoughts?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How Will You Celebrate Lughnasadh?

This will be my first Lughnassadh, so for those of you who celebrate Lughnasadh, I'm wondering what you do? How do you make your offerings (if you make them)? Do you make the offering to Lugh or your patron/matron? Maybe both?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Funny (or Just Plain DUH) Responses to Being Pagan?

What kind of responses have you had from people, when you tell them you are Pagan, or just not Mainstream religion? I would like to *hear* some of the funny or just plain "DUH" responses that others have received. As an example, here is a "Duh" one that I received when I told someone that I was Pagan -

He said, with a straight face as he was dead serious - "So, you don't eat meat?"

Granted after I explained that I was Pagan, not Vegan, he understood and proceeded with the other typical responses - flying on broomsticks, turning people into toads, worshiping Satan, etc and so on.

Has anyone else had any responses like that?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bell Symbolism?

I have heard that bells can symbolize both the air element and the goddess in Wicca.

I am also aware of their Cristian role, summoning people to worship and marking special events like weddings.

And in Buddhism, I know there is a sort of metal bowl that sounds like a bell when 'played” and is used for meditation purposes.

What is the significance or symbolism of bells in your religious tradition? Do you know anything about the history of bells in Egypt, Greece, or the Levant?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Sanctity of Your Altar and Tools?

I have to admit I am a bit nit picky about my altar and ritual tools. I have a permanent altar in my bedroom and I keep symbols of the Elements on it, my censer and any decorations that may correspond with a particular Sabbat or Esbat. The only things I don't keep out on my altar are things my son could get into and hurt himself with. I keep those safely tucked away in a drawer and only pull them out during ritual work. I am especially particular about my Book of Shadows and my divination tools. I don't let anyone touch my Rider-Waite Tarot deck. I've had it since I was nineteen and it has been properly cleansed, consecrated and empowered. I have used it for so many years that I just can't bear the thought of anyone else's energy coming into contact with them.

Am I being unreasonable or superstitious, or are there others out there who prefer to keep their tools "pure" by not letting other people handle them?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Deifying the Dead and Ancestor Worship

I would be interested in hearing opinions on how the following terms might be defined:

Deifying the Dead
Ancestor Worship
Honoring the Ancestors

It seems to me that sometimes the line between these gets blurred.

Also, what are some thoughts on adding the dead to your altar who were not ancestors or someone you knew personally. Say a historical figure or social rights leader for instance - someone like Gandhi or Mother Teresa for example, or do you think that would be unwise?

The Essence of Deity

I am curious as to how each of you perceive the essence of your deities. Specifically, do you view them as immanent, transcendent, or both? Ethereal, archetypal, or anything else?

Also, I have seen some discussion on soft polytheism and hard polytheism. What is the difference between the two, and how does it figure into how you view the essence of your respective deities?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Modern Hellenic Festival Possibilities

Last night I was reading through back issues of He Epistle, Neokoroi's magazine. (Neokoroi is a Hellenic polytheist org, and for the record I am not a member) In each issue it listed descriptions of festivals taking place in that season, and the dates. I got thinking about how to adapt things to my own lifestyle, region etc.

When I first got into Hellenic Polytheism, I was reading Greek Religion by Walter Burkert and remember being pretty overwhelmed by all the festivals. I mean, don't get me wrong I love holidays, but it isnt really possible to observe them all. We all lead busy lives and of course we have to fit in among people (family, employers etc) who don't celebrate them, won't give us days off etc. In addition, I use the Neo-Pagan 8 holiday Wheel of Year even though it's Not Properly Hellenic as that's what I'm used to and I'm also Celtic.

So I'm trying to figure out what to celebrate and how in a way that is workable for me. Maybe some of these ideas will work for other people, or not. Take it as you will- and please share- how do you do your holidays?

1. Regional Climate- I live in Minnesota- the climate, plant/wildlife and agricultural cycle is a lot different. Heck it's even considerably different than the British Isles- but the Mediterranean is an even bigger leap. If I lived in say, Florida it might be a bit closer. But anyways, to me it makes sense to rearrange the holidays a bit so they fit seasonally.

2. Lunar vs. Solar Calendars I find it really confusing to keep track of festivals using a lunar calendar- while my 8 holidays are solar. So I'm just going to "cheat" and pick fixed solar dates, unless the festival relates specifically to a moon phase.

3. Wheel of the Year- I was thinking of either spacing festivals among the 8, or arranging holidays thematically- i.e. festivals of the dead near Samhain, etc.
Kronia- this is a harvest holiday honoring Kronos- near the end of July- close to Lughnasadh/Lammas.

4. Civic/Local Holidays- Since ancient Greek festivals were very localized, and we're not in Athens, Sparta etc. it makes sense to celebrate one's local holidays in a Hellenic fashion. This is esp. nice given how often our civic holidays have so much Greco-Roman imagery around them anyway (architecture etc). I've already seen some folk do this.

Mardi Gras as a Dionysian festival- masks, parades, parties, drinking, sex- need I say more?
Labor Day- in U.S. is in fall, could be celebrated as Khalkeia- festival of smiths, workers, Hephaestus & Athena- a procession is traditional and Labor Day parades are common.
Presidents Day- libations for the presidents
Independence Day- honor Athena, Zeus, founding ancestors, Libertas for the more Roman-inclined.


Nationalism has always bothered me. Particularly symbolic shows of it, such as saluting the flag & reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I have a hard time accepting the idea that people should be symbolically separated by national boundaries, and that obedience and the fulfillment of duty (loyalty, military service, etc.) are necessary.

I don't want to use religion as a cop-out, but are there any spiritual ideas that would explain how I feel? Help me clean up the muddled feeling of discomfort and replace it with a clear understanding of exactly what is wrong with nationalism?

I also know that many people here would disagree with me. please, share your opinions and beliefs as well. But note that I understand the importance and usefulness of countries, as economic and political units. I just do not agree with nationalism, the concept.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

If not Pagan, then What?

We've pretty much deconstructed the class of religions called pagan.

Some people, like me hold onto the term pagan because it demonstrates that a minority movement is possible, can gain recognition by larger institutions (governmental, educational) and provide a modicum of protection to it's members.

By using the example set by Wiccanesque faiths, we have proven that alternative doesn't mean unacceptable. UnChristian doesn't necessarily mean without faith.

Then at the same time we have to ask why we're all huddling under this little umbrella skeleton if the cover it provides is so shallow. We're cursing the blanket, but how else do you keep off the rain?

Expecting the military to recognize every religion that happens to declare itself a religion will in my opinion do more to damage the large scale perception of alternative faiths. Some people have a hard enough time wrapping their minds around Hindus and Islamics not being an assault to their faith, so to introduce twenty or so new religions to the non profit category could water down what small dignity 'pagan' faiths have collected over the last fifty years.

Then again, perhaps that's what is needed. I can see it doing much to take religion out of our schools and our government. Equality would be nearly impossible to provide to a base of a few hundred faiths. Seeing religious institutions loose tax exemption status and government funding wouldn't cause me to shed any tears either.

I don't know how this would play out unless it happened in a way that the lesser known sects living under the name paganism were to step forward and ask for recognition and equal status with the more mainstreamed faiths. Otherwise it could be interpreted as a disbanding of a trend rather than the expansion of individual faiths. Pagans pack it up and go home.

I don't think 'pagan' really makes any statement besides not being J/C/I but still being theistic. It's become a blankey we toss to our critics to keep them from having an accurate view when judging the validity of faiths not their own.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Books Describing Dreams?

I'm interested in what anyone on the forum has read concerning books on dreams. Is there anything out there that is considered solid resource/reference? I've used Ibn Seerin's Dictionary of Dreams for over 10 years because of it's 1400 yr old references. I'm sure there is other and older sources and that is what I am mainly interested in.
I've seen Sahni's Dictionary of Dreams and some Native American books as well on the Cauldron's link that look interesting. Open to helpful opinions...

Deity Communication in the Modern World?

Do you ever feel that your Deity manipulates modern technology to get your attention? Radio/TV/Vehicles, etc. Or do you only have experiences through 'natural' occurrences? Weather/Seasons/Time Change, etc. Or do you only have experiences through your own invitation to your deity?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Reincarnation and Past Lives

Do you believe in past lives, and/or reincarnation? Does one necessarily include the other? If you do believe in past lives, have you ever tried to discover what they were? What does karma have to do with this issue? Is reincarnation limited to the earthly plane, or do you think that past lives can, and have, been lived on the spiritual plane?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Friday, July 06, 2007

When you Lose Touch...

We all have dry spells. In different degrees we lose touch with that which makes us feel in touch with the world around us. Perhaps the rituals lose meaning, perhaps the trees don't sing, perhaps we're just too tired to raise our arms in celebration...

What is this? Are we doing something wrong? Is it time for a change? Must we work harder?

What do you do? What have you personally done to nurse/force/beg the spirit back into your practice?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Energy: Raising, Maintaining and Conserving

Alrighty, How do you raise and maintain an energy level that allows you to get in all of the things you want to do?

I maintain a high paced schedule. My to do list is usually about ten miles long, and I usually have about ten projects in various stages of completeness in the works at any given time. I tend to use the shop broom method, pushing the pile along and moving it forward equally as best I can.

In a way I think it's because I'm trying to be fair to my projects. To create growth in any area you have to feed it. You have to put something in to get something back.

I also have as many if not more of my projects living on the mundane side of the equation. There are so many balls to keep in the air in order to keep everything progressing that I often use my less mundane pursuits to fuel the day to day.

I'm drawing energy out of every place I can make a connection to pour into obligations. I've streamlined as best I can but when it comes down to it, it's a vicious cycle. The leaves grow and need support from the roots, which in turn need to be fed and watered, which causes the leaves to grow... You take in as much as you can on the leaf, but it's limited by what the rest of the plant can process and store.

Taking in new energy stimulates new growth and new ideas that in turn need more energy to be supported.

I also feel like there are things that I HAVE to do. Not like mundane have to, but in the arts I feel like if you CAN do it, then you shouldn't be letting it rot on the vine. You need to be out there with your baskets cultivating it since it's one of the most valuable things that you can contribute to the world. To let too long go without picking up the guitar, or sketching, or any of the other million crafty things that come to mind is to let those shreds of energy and thought float away on the breeze.

By doing they are made concrete.

To not clean the kitchen, and to not have an environment put together where I can sit down and draw energy just from the layout and stimulation of my surroundings - to let the mundane stuff go is just as crippling.

Unfortunately bringing things over from thought to product takes a lot of energy. Energy beyond what sleep, food and mental quiet can provide. Then adding that these things in and unto themselves aren't always reliably employed with the day to day stuff - they require investment to pull energy back out later. Sometimes you don't make that investment, or have the down payment to invest.

Sometimes the ideas themselves generate enough energy to transition from lightning strike to flame, but other times they bring an energy debt along with them. The scope of the idea can drain you.

Controlling the panic that shows up when you really realize you are up against the boundless, and that maybe there is just no way to generate enough energy to get through the things you feel you should be doing is another juxtapose. Sometimes panic can generate a boost. Other times it just shatters your hold on what little you have left.

What are some places that you draw energy from when you're spread thin? How do you conserve that energy, making your pursuits more directed so you're loosing less energy out the cracks and to ineffective method?

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I was reading another discussion (I don't exactly remember where), and I have some questions.

1. Is it better to speak to deities of a certain pantheon in their own language? (like Greek pantheon in Greek, Irish in Gaelic, etc.)

2. Are there languages that are considered more 'magical' than others? Like, is the fact that they're dead/obscure make it easier to lose yourself in the spell/ritual (because of the psychology of it?)

3. Are there certain sounds/styles of languages that are better suited to certain rituals? Like, would a love ritual be better in a flowery language like Italian than a choppy language, like say, German? or does that tie into the psychology of it too?

4. are their certain sounds that are inherently magical? (like some people say that "Om" is)

5. does all this hold true for made up languages like elvish?

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template