Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reconstructionism - Fact or Filler?

I've been lurking for a while now, and I've been seriously looking at the CR Sig in particular. But I've got some questions/thoughts about Reconstructionism in general.

Most religions have large and robust content covering history/creation of their people, rules/procedures for ceremonies, key guidelines for living, ethical/moral codes, taboos, blessings, curses, rites of passage, and many many more things. From what I've seen it seems that most Recon groups are lucky if they have evidence for 20%-40% of what the ORIGINAL religion believed about those things. Which means 60%-80% of the Recon religion has to be "made up" (thus the reconstruction Smiley )

So if you have to make up/reconstruct/guess about a majority of your religion how is that any different from other "modern" pagan religions such as Wicca which was cobbled together from a variety of sources and then had the gaps filled in by Gardner(sp)? How do you know you've "got it right" (reconstructed it correctly)? How do you know that the "filler" material is true to real world history? And if staying true to real world history isn't a priority, why bother with the reconstruction?

Choosing a Path?

I am really unsure of how to proceed on my pagan path, as I'm not sure which path to follow. There are aspects of several paths that I like, but none seems to fit me perfectly.

I like ritualized magic and spellcasting, but I just don't believe there are only 2 deities. I believe in Cernunnos (my patron) and a 3-faced moon-goddess, but I also believe in the Earth Mother and Lugh.

I don't believe in reincarnation or past lives. I find it hard enough to believe that the Divine are cruel enough to make us go through this life once, but to willingly believe that they are sadistic enough to make us come back and endure it time and time again is just beyond me.

I don't like anything which even has the flavor of Eastern religions. Things like Aikido, Chakras, Tantras, Yoga, Feng Shui, Taoism, Shakti, Reiki, Yin/Yang, I Ching... mere mention of these are enough to make me instantly lose interest in a conversation. I do, however, like Taiko drumming and am interested in learning more about Pashupati.

I have a deep reverence for life which borders on the silly sometimes.
* I cry if I hit anything with my car.
* I won't use a cut Christmas tree... I cry when I have to carry the poor dead thing out to the curb.
* I have an interest in Bonsai, but I won't try because I'm afraid of killing the poor little trees.
* I often talk to plants and animals.

I have always felt that there was a living, intelligent presence in the woods. I get the distinct impression that it is male. I usually find myself looking in the underbrush for eyes looking back at me. I find myself in a state of awe when I'm in the woods.

Whenever I go out at night, I always look to see where the moon is, what phase she is in, and pause to admire her beauty. I tell her just how beautiful I think she is.

I love divination. I work with the Tarot and with the Ogham. I am also just starting to get into pendulums and am getting ready to try making a black mirror. Astrology, however, bores me to tears.

I am fascinated with Celtic and Native American cultures. I like reading about the Druids and the Shamans. I feel Stonehenge is a holy place and have 2 totem animals: wolf and crow. I love Celtic music and I am slowly teaching myslef to speak Scottish Gaelic. I want to learn more about Spirit Quests and OOBEs.

Holly and Oak are holy plants for me.

I am interested in learning more about faeire, the Greenman, the Wild Hunt, and the Holly King/Oak King stories. I love wind chimes, fountains, bells, incense and candles.

So what path do you think would fit me best?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Charming an Object?

Has anyone ever placed a charm or spell on an object/ imbued it with a spell? I'm wondering how i could do a spell such as a healing spell, and put that onto an object which i could then give to someone and the spell would work on this feasible?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Familiars in Ritual/Familiar vs. Pet

What role do/can familiars take in rituals/practices/ceremonies and such?

I have a sudden deep interest in this particular topic because my familiar came to me recently, unexpectedly, out of nowhere, and I knew it the moment I saw him. Now that he's here, I'm not exactly sure what to do with him (for lack of a better phrase) in regards to my practices. I haven't been able to find much on this topic though.

Also, I'm curious as to everyone's opinion on what makes an animal a familiar. I ask because I see often people stating they chose a pet for a familiar because they have a bond with it, their dog/cat/whatever loves them and always wants to be around them, etc. Which is wonderful, but to me this seems like "just a pet" (again, lack of a better phrase), and doesn't necessarily make a familiar. Of course everyone's experiences are different, but for me I couldn't have chosen or decided this.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pantheon Structures?

Heard in a lecture recently that the ancient Egypt had a different pantheon structure than the ancient Greeks. The Egypt's' pantheon is hierarchical with all Gods coming from one God and there's supposed to be unity among all of them. (Like a pyramid?) In the Greek pantheon is no unity and the Gods are in sort of concurrence for worshippers. The prof also said that the Greek model is rare.

Not sure if I got this right?

How is that in Kemetism and Hellenismos today?

How about the other pantheons, Celtic, Norse etc.?

What structure does your personal pantheon have?
Do you see all Gods & Goddesses as aspects of one God/Goddess or all Gods & Goddesses entities of their own?
Is there a chief/chieftess God/Goddess?
Is there some sort of order in your pantheon or are the God/Goddesses like a loose bunch of cats who fight among each other for attention? Are Gods/Goddesses jealous of each other?
Or don't they have any relationship to each other whatsoever?
If there is a specific order/hierarchy in your pantheon, what kind of? Like in a big family? Patriarchic or matriarchic?

Sorry for the many (and maybe stupid) questions. I don't have any close relationship to a God or Goddess and try to make up my mind about if that would work for me or not, I feel slightly drawn to Artemis/Diana and Athena/Minerva.

I'm also just curious how Polytheism works today and how it worked in history.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Offerings and Negotiations

I've been thinking a lot lately about this, and about offerings and what is appropriate under what conditions, etc. I'm really struggling with this because:

1) I need to honor Brighid to the best of my ability.
2) I'm a product of my times and feel uncomfortable with offerings of food or drink.
3) I've never asked Brighid for anything other than a way to let me know She's really there.
4) Now, when I really do need Her help, I don't know what to offer in return.

I've posted before about votive offerings (I'll do X for God So-n-So, if S/He does Y for me). And I understand them intellectually. But I'm having a really hard time wrapping my brain around the idea.

And, in this case, the help I need is pretty big (at least to me), so it feels as if the offering must be something really big (at least to me). I don't know how to figure this out.

I did a little divination last night -- which, itself, is an improvement. It's been so long since I've felt able to function on that level.

For some reason, I was punchy last night and my husband and I were joking about how much morphine I have to take just to be able to get out of bed in the morning. And he made some off-hand remark relating morphine to some of the mind-altering substances some cultures have used to facilitate vision quests (e.g., peyote, etc.). So, I thought, what the hell? I'll give it a try. Maybe morphine will open me up.

And it did. I was a bit freaked out at first, but then I just went with it.

And what I learned is that I am, indeed, on the right track with this big project. And that I do, indeed, need some Divine help. And that an offering would be a good idea. And that's as far as I got.

So, I'd love to hear more details about how people figure out what those special offerings are and/or how you negotiate with the gods to get the help you need in return for your offering.

Oh, and, yes, I've tried just asking Brighid. But apparently I have to either figure it out or just use trial and error until I get it right.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Green Man Altar

Due to some recent experiences, I've been giving some thought to creating some sort of altar space dedicated to the Green Man/Cernunnos. I'm having a hard time finding very much information on him, and would really appreciate suggestions as to what would be suitable for such an altar space. (Suggestions of economical resources are also greatly appreciated-I'm perpetually broke.) And, is a temporary altar appropriate, or should I be ready for the long haul?

Personal Traditions with more than one Pantheon?

I was wondering if anyone's traditions involved deities from more than one pantheon. Which ones? How do you make it work?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Creating a Wand?

I've read a few articles on tree association and which ones are good for wands or other thing. Most of them just gave me the idea that I should find a tree associated with what the purpose of the wand is and leave an offering. None of those however, told me what the offering should be, or how to ask for permission. Or what to do with the branch afterwards. So, can someone point me to a guide, or give an account of their own methods?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sacred Plants

I'm curious as to how people view the importance (significance) of plants that are considered sacred to the deities they worship.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kemetic Soul Confusion

This is about the different concepts of soul (for lack of a better word) in Kemetic beliefs. Basically, I'm confused about all the different terms and what they mean. I've read about them on three or four different websites, and I've taken notes on them, but it's not really sinking in.

I know Khat is the physical body, so I'm not too confused about that one. But, the differences between Ka and Ba aren't really sticking with me. Ka is the life force, right? But what exactly does that mean? And Ba, that would be the personality part of the soul, right? From what I understand the Ba is immortal while the Ka can die out. I've also read about Sahu and Sekhem, and I'm just as lost as can be about those definitions. Also, the idea of Ren, which is the hidden name of an individual. How would that relate to a modern day Kemetic practice? From what I've read, in Ancient times people would have a hidden name because knowing that name would allow another person to have power over them. However, that doesn't seem to relate in modern times.

I think I just need someone who really understands these concepts to explain it to me in simple terms.

How Many Tarot Decks?

For those of you who use Tarot, how many decks do you have? Which ones and why?

I personally only have Tarot of Mermaids. It's the deck I started with, and have read rather successfully for years now. I have yet to see any others that "spoke to me" like these do.

For those who do professional reading, do you have more than one specifically so that you can match the deck to the client?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Seeking your Path - Theoretically or Practically?

I wonder how you all found your path. Had you read tons of books and made sure what is your path before you tried it out in practice or did you make solitary experiments without consulting a book on everything or hopping from one group/community/coven to another till you found your path?

The stuff I'm reading is interesting, but sometimes I feel like being an internet Pagan or someone who hides behind books. I haven't read books about specific paths yet, just some overview stuff about Paganism and stuff about herbs, animal guides, tarot, traditional chinese medicine which would fit somehow into more than one path, but doesn't point towards anything specific.

I feel drawn towards witchcraft, solitary work as well as group work, but don't know how to start. But just reading makes me impatient. I'm practicing Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong since 5 years and have some experience of energy flows. I also have done a few experiments like aura-seeing or trying to feel the energy of plants, stones and other things. Part of those experiments gave me the impression that something happened, but I feel I could need some sort of education and practice structure. But maybe I'm just spoiled by my martial arts school, where I get regularly feedback and learn only new stuff if my teacher thinks it's the right time. Maybe in Paganism you have to decide much more for yourself and be a real good judge of yourself and the stuff ahead?

Spells and circles feel over my head at the moment to do alone. But is there any point I can start alone? How do people get initiated? Can you try with a group for a while before you choose? Even though I'm such a clueless newbie I'd so love to meet some people in person and if it's just to talk. Reading and doing some experiments alone in secrecy feel so 'unreal' or like leading a double life.

How did you start searching for a group? Did you attend pan-Pagan gatherings to meet different people or just jumped into the next coven/community of your neighbourhood? Did you attend initiatory classes done by your group or learned by yourself before you joined a group?

Maybe someone could also recommend a practice orientated introductory book on witchcraft?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making a Day Holy?

This question is directed primarily at those who are in the process of creating their own religious path or tradition (or whatever you want to call it), but of course I won't turn down input from everyone else.

How do you make the decision to create a holiday? What considerations do you take into account when deciding the timing or the purpose or any associated practices? What comes first, for you?

Tarot Teachers

Eventually I wouldn't mind reading cards on a somewhat professional basis for friends and referrals from friends. I'm still learning now, though. I have some excellent books on the way from Amazon, once I get some birthday money.

I was specifically wondering about tarot teachers. I may be able to find someone within my tradition's family of covens to teach me, but I'm not sure how many folks consider themselves tarot experts. How else might one go about finding a tarot teacher/mentor?

Meditation CDs?

I've gotten to the point where I feel that I can't make any more progress until I learn to meditate. I've been reading a lot over the past two years, and I feel like it's time to actually do something.

I've read the article here on TC about meditation, and I've tried counting my breaths to meditate. However, I live near train tracks, and have two dogs that feel they must bark at everything that moves, even the wind.

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a cd of guided meditations or something along those lines (anything really). I could put it on my mp3 player and use headphones to block out the noise.

My high school drama teacher had us do one during play practice one day, and it worked. That's the only time I've ever been able to do it.

Symbols of Brighid?

What symbols do you guys use to represent Brighid? The flame and Brighid's Cross are fairly obvious, but what of others?

I'm asking, actually, because I have plans (if all works out) for re-working a cabinet I have into a shrine for Her. I want to paint a large Brighid's cross on the front, with other Celtic symbols around it (now if only I can get what's in my head onto paper and, paint).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Celtic Underworld/Otherworld Narratives?

A colleague of mine is looking for stories, for a university class, of voyages to the underworld in Celtic myth and folklore. It's been AGES since I read Celtic material that wasn't fairy-related, and I figured y'all would know this stuff off the tops of your heads, so I thought I'd ask. Cheesy I'm coming up with the "Pwyll" segement of the Mabinogian (where he swaps kingdoms with Arawn), the Voyage of Bran (visits to otherworldly islands), and a metric ton of fairy narratives (of the "visits/abductions to fairyland" type), but I know there's more. Any suggestions? Thanks!

(I'm also having a hell of a time remembering where the story of Arthur and the cauldron of Annwfn shows up -- anyone know what text it's in?)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cauldron Suggestions Wanted: How Would You Improve TC?

It's not only time for our Annual Donation Drive, it's time for our annual "suggestion drive" when we open a topic and request your suggestions for how TC (the forum, the web site, the MUX, forum rules, etc.) could be improved. We make no promises to implement suggestions, but the Hosts and staff do look at and consider them all. (And have implemented a number of suggestions over the last ten years).

Four items are completely off the table, however:

1) Changing forum software.

2) Eliminating/weakening our quoting rules. (The Hosts will shut down the board first -- seriously, having quoting with the backlinks to the quoted message is that important.)

3) Eliminating the restrictions on accounts that have not qualified for Full Membership.

4) Turning the board away from its "Discussion and Debate" orientation.

Suggestions regarding other areas will be considered. Suggestions that take a lot of staff time or that cost money will be considered, but will will be far less likely to be implemented (for obvious reasons).

Staff may not reply to suggestions, but they ARE read. (And Randall reads every one of them.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Information on Ancient Irish Paganism?

First of all, I should say that I was raised Catholic and am of Irish heritage. I've always been curious about how the ancient Irish Celts lived and how religion played a part in their lives. I'm also interested in looking at different faiths as Catholicism hasn't touched my soul in any way. I've found the task of finding out about European or Irish Paganism quite a daunting task. I have very little knowledge and was hoping you could perhaps give me a few pointers in the right direction and help me get started.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Please Share Your Paranormal Experiences

I've been hearing about paranormal experiences and wanted to learn if anyone has had any. If you have please share them I'm eager to hear any of them.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

How is Feminism Viewed in Pagan Religions?

I'm sorta one, but I'm not that crazy about how its viewed in general.

Love your views on this.

Atrocious Pagan Websites - Let's See Your Worst...

I have something of a morbid fascination with atrocious sites, so come on you lot, do your worst.

What is the worst Pagan site you've found on the web?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Finding your path.... Any path....

I'm a newbie poster here and would like some friendly advice and conversation. My need for advice centers around a question. How do you find your path, and stick to it when it goes against your upbringing? Yes, I understand that the simplest answer to this is - find what you believe and follow it. And that's all well and good, but my problem is that I don't know what I believe and I don't want to be wrong. I don't want to choose a Wiccan, Pagan, Druidic - or even Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim pathway and be wrong and be damned for all eternity (or any other definition of Hell.)

I grew up Baptist. Spent time in Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches. But my problem with Christianity has always gone back to the holes and discrepancies in the Bible - not to mention the clear absence of HIM in my life. I'm not saying those who believe are wrong. I envy them in fact. I envy anyone who is able to find peace and purpose in any religion. Eventually, I spent some time as a pseudo Christian Wiccan. (Please don't flame me for this one, I know many people disagree on whether such a practice is even possible. Let me simple say that I 'practiced magic' (simple job, protection, etc spells - but called on no additional deities.)

There are a few things that I 'feel right' about. I know I like to think of my higher power as a loving, merciful, woman and not a temperamental, dictator-like man (aka "My Impressions of God.) I know I want magic to be real, but I don't know how much of what my spells accomplished was due to the spell, and how much was coincidence or fate. I know that Brigid, seems to strike a note with me, but I don't know why. Many would say those two things alone are enough to pick a path. But again, having grown up in Christian religion, I don't want to 'piss God off'. I can't prove He's out there, but I can't prove He's not either.

I'm sure I'm not alone in these seemingly murky depths. Please forgive this early post any offense. Please try to understand the spirit in which it is intended.

Any help and support is *GREATLY* appreciated.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pagan vs Heathen

Can someone explain to me why some people here differentiate between pagan and heathen?

A heathen is someone who doesn't believe in the JCI god. So is a pagan. So obviously they are not using the standard definition.

What is meant when someone says they are a heathen rather than a pagan?

Helping Your Children Learn Along With You?

I have three very small children, and it's easy to include them, because they don't know anything, really, and can't ask the tough questions. My nine year old is another story. It's hard to answer her questions, because a lot of times I don't really know myself. Are there any books out there geared toward her age group? Even something geared toward the teen-age group?

I suppose I should add that I'm following the Wiccan beliefs.

Imbolc is Coming!

I'm feeling very much like I want to make this Imbolc very special. I'm not sure why. (Actually, I think it has something to do with this being the year that my older daughter turns 18.)

Anyway, I'm looking for fun, creative, meaningful, family-oriented ideas for ways to celebrate. By family, I mean my husband and me, our 2 teenage daughters, their boyfriends or friends-who-are-boys, and my parents.

And, of course, only 2-3 of us are actually pagan...

But, since it's Brighid's Day, it's a particularly important day for me.

So, what do you do?

At this point, I'm thinking along the lines of taking the day off to *really* cook (maybe even some good Irish soda bread and some butter cookies -- yummmmmmm), and finding some kind of art project we can all contribute to. Maybe a paint-your-own-pottery type of thing. Or maybe a big canvas that we all paint on.

And, of course, I've considered a tattoo...

I don't know... But I'd LOVE to hear your ideas!

Playing Card Divination?

I have been reading about divining with playing cards. This sounded really cool, until I found out that they have the same meanings as Tarot decks (just without the major arcana). So I was wondering: are there other, original, ways of divining with playing cards?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Morrighan as an Earth Goddess?

I have read a few articles about The Morrighan originally starting out as an Earth Goddess somehow associated with Anna, but I am not sure if that is reliable? Would anyone like to set me straight on this?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Calling the Quarters?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but calling the quarters seems to me to be standard for most Wiccan and non-Wiccan rituals. I've tried to understand the reason behind this, but I'm stumped. Why would calling on earth, fire, and water make any difference? Are they considered to be sentient spirits of these elements, or the elements themselves? Is it to provide balance? Or have I forgotten something incredibly basic? Am I just completely confused?

Annual Donation Drive Info For 2008

We have had our donation drive in February in the past. We are moving it to January this year because LyricFox will be starting radiation treatments for her cancer in late January or early February and we do not want to be dealing with tracking donations and cancer treatments. Our annual web hosting bill for (the main web site with our articles, reviews, newsletters, etc.) is due next month, so it is time for our annual Cauldron Donation Drive. If those of our members who can afford to contribute $5, $10, $20 or more in the next few weeks would do so, we'd probably have all the money needed. The Hosts usually donate $50 toward the fund, but given our medical bills, we may not be able to do so this year.

Don't worry, if we don't get enough donations, the main web site will not disappear. The Hosts will scrape up the money needed somehow, so there's no "if you don't donate the web site will disappear" nonsense some other sites have been known to do. We just appreciate all the help we can get as the Hosts are not rolling in money any more than you are and a large bill in one month would really work havoc -- even more than usual this year.

Donations can be accepted via PayPal or the Amazon Honor System (or even by money order). Paypal is slightly better than Amazon as they take a slightly smaller fee out of what is donated. If you want to be personally credited and thanked for your donation, be sure to use PayPal and mention your message board login name in the Comments box (if one appears -- as we have to encrypt the code to prevent spammers from getting the address, it probably will not) or send us a separate email from the same email address giving us your message board login name. (Amazon donations are anonymous so we can't email you our thanks). Note that donations to TC are not tax-deductible in the US and probably aren't elsewhere either.

Keeping Religious Practice Fresh?

I've been reflecting a lot in the last few days. One of the things I'm currently struggling with is keeping my spiritual growth "fresh". I'm not 100% sure I know what I mean by that. I think I'm concerned about getting into a rut, getting stale, not staying as close in touch with Brighid as I want to.

Some of this is because I've been quite sick over the last few months with horrible migraine and cluster headaches. And then the neverending zombie stomach bug from hell. I've had a lot of time to just lie there and think.

I light my lamp for Brighid every night, and I keep an electric LED candle on always. I have my little "shrine shelf" at home, and an unobtrusive shrine-let at work complete with LED candle. I continue to study and read about Irish mythology and related topics. I continue to wear my "Brighid jewelry" and listen to my "Brighid music". I even just received a beautiful pair of stylized Brighid's cross earrings for Christmas.

But I'm missing that zing -- those lightbulb moments -- that shivery feeling.

Could just be that I've been sick and medicated. Or could be that I've gotten into a rut and need to break out.

I'd love to hear suggestions for what works for others who have found themselves in the same boat.

It's 2008 -- Happy New Year

The Cauldron hosts and staff would like to wish all members, friends, and visitors to our website a very happy new year -- and the best possible 2008.

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