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.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Experiences with When Someone You Love is Wiccan?

I recently bought this book from the Bristol Renn Faire, and I've read several positive reviews of it, including the one on this site, but I was wondering if anyone had any stories of personal experience with using it? Like if it helped you teach others, and how people you lent it to responded to it.

Psychedelics and the Astral?

What are people's thoughts on using psychedelic drugs as way into "astral" planes or divine experiences? There are tons of religions/cults that have used hallucinogenic plants for ages. Is this true divinity? And what about, for example, LSD, which is not "natural" but made entirely in a lab? What about people who practically worship these substances as the way to truth and god?

I have mixed feelings about using psychedelics for spiritual purposes. For me, it seems like a cop out or short cut... and therefore would not be as rewarding as the real thing. Also, the matter of choice. You take a drug... and there's no options. Not options like what your trip will be like, but option as to whether or not you trip at all. If at any point you want to *stop* and come back to reality, essentially you can't! That bothers me a lot. People can do what they wish to. I'm sure psychedelic experience is a powerful thing, and I believe they take you into astral planes, but it is no substitute for for producing the same reaction within yourself on your own.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Animism and Fluffiness

Animism in some form or another has been around in various cultures for thousands of years right? The reason I ask is I got up my nerve to post an answer on this mailing list. Stupid, I know, and it was an animist response, and one of them basically equated animism with fluffy bunny territory.

So my question is, animism isn't necessarily a fluffy bunny category, is it? Not in my humble opinion. But I want to know you people's.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Uses for Dried Rose Petals?

Can anyone think of any? I've got a ton of them.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Weirdest Personal Beliefs?

So, what's the weirdest thing you've ever believed? Maybe even random passing thoughts that just won't go away? As a child, as an adult, during your fluffiest fluffy stage?

For me, I've got two. One was that if I ever ate a watermelon seed, I'd wake up one morning with a vine coming out my throat. (tomato seeds, cuke seeds .. those never bothered me. just watermelon.)

And the weirdest reoccurring thought was that if someone ever did an exorcism on me, the *me* that y'all know would get kicked out and some poor sap who's body I stole would wake up and be VERY confused/disturbed. Felt kinda sorry for her.

What's your mental malfunction?

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