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 bonfire...as 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. Only...do 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, www.circlesanctuary.com) 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.

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